Year 10 Houses of Parliament Visit 0912

Year 10 London Trip

The time is 05:30, the RV is St John Fisher High School hall, the destination is London, the mission should you choose to accept it is to visit the Houses of Parliament.

When you’re bleary eyed, hungry, irritable and longing for sleep it takes spirit to drag yourself and your parents out of bed, dress and leave the house knowing that London is five hours away. The 45 intrepid Year 10’s who undertook this mission knew it would be a long and tiring day, but also knew it would be well worth the effort… and it was.

Arriving in London we split into two groups and visited The Houses of Parliament and The London Eye alternately, neither attraction disappointed.

The Palace of Westminster is home to the institutions of Government for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The history of the palace is fascinating and the feeling of power and influence is palpable.

We started our tour via Portcullis House a relatively new addition to the Palace of Westminster which lies over the road in the shadow on The Clock Tower and the bell: Big Ben. We were screened, x-rayed and searched before being introduced to our guides. Those of us who are avid ‘people watchers’ spotted a number of MP’s, journalists and celebrities, I don’t wish to name drop but we saw Winston Churchill’s grandson; a chocolate bar for the first person to come to Y5 and tell me his name.









From there via a poorly lit tunnel we were led by our guide straight to the Central Lobby between the two ‘houses’. We spent over an hour being shown round The House of Commons and The House of Lords, the Robing Rooms and various lobbies.

Follow the link and check out where your MP’s run the country from.

The trip wasn’t just about politics and citizenship; before we were led back to Portcullis House to have an interactive session voting, discussing, debating and trying to lead our own ‘democracy’, we had a chance to look around Westminster Hall, to stand where Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Pope Benedict have all stood when they addressed the leadership of this country. To read the plaque which explains that I was there on the very spot that St Thomas More and Guy Fawkes were both found guilty of treason. To feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck as I walked through the hall where Winston Churchill was laid in state before his funeral. Unforgettable.

History, however, is not all about the ancient past, it is made every day. The people, the places, the events and the architecture of London are oozing the very essence of what it means to be a citizen of this country. Over the river The London Eye is a contemporary reminder of the importance of London to the country and our country to the world.

Look North, East, South or West from the top of The Eye and you immediately recognise St Paul’s, The Globe Theatre, Wembley Stadium, The Olympic Park, Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Horse Guards, The Shard, The Gherkin, Battersea Power Station and Nelson’s Column. The list is almost endless.


Most of us could easily spend weeks in London and never be bored but sadly we had to leave. The trip back was shorter because we were going downhill but by the time we got back to the heaving metropolis that we call Dewsbury it was dark, and once more I was tired, hungry and irritable. I hope I hid it well.

I’m sure some see our trip as just a ‘jolly’, but that is to pour scorn on the importance of teaching our students the nature of citizenship and democracy. We all need to realize the importance of being involved in the governing of the country, whether as an elected official, or just a voter. The lessons learned hopefully will inspire our students, today the school council, tomorrow, who knows?

The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights Drafted in 1948;

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Democracy may be a right, but it was a right that was fought for by our ancestors starting with the Magna Carta in 1215, the greatest threat to this right is the apathy of the electorate. Let us hope and pray that our Year 10 can overcome the challenge of apathy.

It wasn’t all work though…


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