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Reading Girls' School

Reading Girls' School

Citizenship trips to the Houses of Parliament

Year 10 and Year 11 Students who study GCSE Citizenship recently visited the Houses of Parliament

The Y10 and Y11 Citizenship groups recently had the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament. They have been studying how Government works, and it was really interesting to visit the seat of Government in the UK. A coach journey to London is always exciting, spotting famous landmarks on the way, Wembley Stadium; Battersea Power Station; Chelsea Bridge; Earls Court etc. The coaches parked on the embankment opposite the London Eye and the London Aquarium, and we then crossed the road to Portcullis House, which is the entrance to the Houses of Parliament. We had to undergo security checks before our tours started. 

We were led down below ground and walked through an ancient passage which passes under the road which splits Portcullis House from the Houses of Parliament. We were allowed to take only one photograph inside the building because of strict security and that was in the main entrance hall, beside the stained Glass Window which was in created for the Queens Diamond Jubilee. The guides were very well informed and had many interesting facts to divulge about the history of the building and the way Parliament works. We were able to stand in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the contrast between the two was very interesting, the House of Lords is much more opulent! Everyone agreed that they both looked much larger when you see them on television! The girls were most impressed to find that ordinary people can end up being a Lord or Baroness if they work hard and excel in some way. Examples of this are Lord Sugar (Business) Lord Coe (Sport) Baroness Thatcher (Politics)

After our tours we were invited to try to work like parliament, by dividing into two teams (the Government and the Opposition) to decide on a new piece of legislation. We had to think of ideas; vote which one to proceed with; debate it; and then a final vote. It was very competitive! We were shown a typical green paper and I think we then understood why it can take up to a year to get legislation passed, by the time it has been read; debated; read again; scrutinised by a committee; processed by the House of Lords, it is a very difficult process.

Finally we had a short meeting with local MP Robert Wilson, who was happy to take questions. He was grilled on his views on immigration; bus fares in Reading; and how he started in politics. He has aso agreed to visit the girls at school for further discussion.

Some of us were amazed to find that any member of the public can visit and tour the Houses of Parliament. The General public can also watch the Government in action by applying to their local MP for a ticket or by joining the public queue at any time when Parliament is in session. Some of us are already planning another visit!