In December, Year 12 students embarked on an exciting trip to London to visit the Houses of Parliament, with Politics students also having the chance to visit the offices of Amnesty International and the Museum of London and History students to attend a number of informative lectures about Russia.
Our train set off early from Newton Abbot, arriving in London Paddington at about 10:30am. The Politics and History groups then separated, with the Politics group headed to the underground to travel to Amnesty. We were met by Dan Jones, a supporter of Amnesty International for over 50 years, who gave a very insightful talk about the work of Amnesty all over the world and the work that he has been involved in directly himself, including fighting for the protection of vulnerable refugees. We also spoke to the Lobbying Team, who work to get human rights on the agenda of the Government - for example, working to protect the Human Rights Act. After lunch, we travelled to the Museum of London, where we had the chance to see artefacts from the ancient city, right up to the cauldron which lit up the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the evening, we enjoyed dinner at Pizza Express, followed by shopping in Covent Garden.
The next day, we were all headed to Parliament, where we were firstly given a tour of the Palace, even getting to sit in the Commons Viewing Gallery - where we listened to Mhairi Black’s Private Member's Bill being debated (the youngest MP in Parliament since the 1800s, being elected in 2015 at the age of just 20) - and in the Viewing Gallery of the House of Lords, too. What’s more, we took in the Central Lobby, where UK citizens can meet to lobby their MPs about issues they care about, and Westminster Hall, which has hosted guests including Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela, in addition to once being a banqueting hall for Henry VIII. Following on from that, we took part in a election systems workshop, where the group was separated into three political parties, each electing a leader and making a mini manifesto. We then compared how we would all fare under First Past the Post and Proportional Representation after we took part in a mini election.
We were then back on the underground, headed for Oxford Street, where we all enjoyed some shopping and some lunch before heading back to Paddington.
It was an absolutely invaluable trip and it was incredible to have access to the corridors of Westminster, getting an insight into the workings of modern day Parliament and its illustrious history. As an AS Level Politics student, to get such an experience was extremely worthwhile - I’d recommend it to anyone studying Politics in Sixth Form!