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Politics students try a slice of Westminster life

Published on 22/02/17

Sixth form politics students from The Hewett Academy have visited the heart of the UK’s political system in Westminster.

The students spent a day in London on Friday, February 10 getting an insight into what it’s like to be an MP.

They were allowed past the gates at Downing Street - normally closed to the public - for a photo opportunity in front of Number 10, the official residence of prime minister Theresa May.

The group then followed in the footsteps of centuries of famous politicians with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Houses of Parliament, finishing the day with a mock general election.

Year 13 student Scott Maskell reports on the day:

“A tasty day was had by the sixth form politics students, both in the political sense and in every coffee shop that was available. We took a look at Downing Street (behind the gates and guns, that is) where we enjoyed a humorous discussion with the very down-to-earth policeman - however, no Michael Goves were seen tripping over this day! It was a wondrous experience just being at probably the most famous front door in the world.

“Following that, we managed to catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, which not even the London drizzle could spoil!  

“We went for a tour around Parliament and through all the gold- and painting-laden rooms. We were met by a knowledgeable guide who instructed us that no cameras or phones were allowed, which presumably is to maintain historical integrity and reverence.

“We entered into the same room that the Queen enters through, still containing Victoria’s chair which was surprisingly small yet still intensely majestic.

“We walked through the room where the foreign ministers give speeches - behind the platform was an enormous painting of the English victory at Waterloo, take from that what you will!  

“Aside from paintings there were statues in every corner of old English sovereigns and rulers and later, in the Lobby, statues of previous prime ministers - even Thatcher... and no, it was not made of iron!

“Then came the big rooms - the House of Lords and House of Commons. When entering the Lords, we were struck by a myriad of gold-plated decorum, and another regal throne. The seats were not to be sat on and stories were told of Lords in the chamber and bishops falling off seats.

“The Commons was next and was surprisingly condensed in terms of size - not as vast as it seems on television, but still very much impressive, especially the front benches where Mrs May and Mr Corbyn sit.  

“Following the tour, the students were put into groups to create their own political parties and to try to win a fantasy general election. Some controversial manifesto policies were announced... however, the educational aspect was relatable and helpful!

“On the whole, a very enjoyable, knowledge-packed and memorable day was had and enjoyed thoroughly by all!”