This week's Grade 9 visit to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey was a truly memorable occasion. Our group met at Acton Town Station at 8 am, with our appointment at the Houses of Parliament Education Centre scheduled for 9:30 am. The logistics all ran very smoothly and we arrived on time and were admitted to the Education Centre once we had completed an airport-style security screening of the contents of our bags and coats.
Divided into three groups we were then taken from the Education Centre into the Houses of Parliament for our tour. We were shown both the Houses of Lords and House of Commons, and our guides explained to us how the former was unelected and the latter was elected, as well as the nature and function of their respective roles in the legislative process. Our students were very interested to see in the House of Commons where the UK Prime minister and Leader of the Opposition speak to Members of Parliament (MPs) from their government and opposition benches respectively. Having completed our tour, we then returned to the Education Centre for a highly informative and enjoyable participatory workshop about how the UK electoral process works.
We then walked to outside Downing Street, and through the security gates were able to see No.10, where the Prime minister of the day resides. Amongst many other nearby sites of interest, we saw the Cenotaph which commemorates those who have served in the UK and Commonwealth armed forces. We then proceeded to Westminster Abbey, where we had our packed lunches in the cloisters. At the Abbey Education Centre, we learnt about its history and role in UK national life. We then went into the Abbey, an outstanding building in its own right, where we saw so much of interest, notably the Coronation throne, and a remarkable selection of historical graves and commemorations. Of the latter, we saw where famous scientists such as Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking are buried, the imposing tombs of many English Kings and Queens, and Poets Corner where illustrious writers such as Charles Dickens are buried, or in the case of William Shakespeare, commemorated. One particularly poignant part of our visit was seeing the tomb of the unknown warrior, in which lies the body an anonymous British soldier who perished on the Western Front in the First World War. The visit to Westminster Abbey was truly a very special experience, one which will stay with us for a long time.
Thanks are due to Ms Rego who meticulously planned, set up and led this visit, and to Ms Harrison and Ms Gastaldi, who along with myself, made up the four staff who accompanied Grade 9 on this special visit.
Head of Pastoral