YORK HOUSE - MOCK EU REFERENDUM
On the lead up to what has become a pivotal period in British political history with Britain holding the Referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union, York House at Harris Church of England Academy in Rugby have held their own EU Mock Referendum.
As each tutor group discussed the different views of the stay or leave campaigns, students stood in each group to be elected as a Mini Member of Parliament (MMP). As students from Year 7 to 9 elected their MMP’s to represent both sides of the argument, the battle commenced. With research being studied and speeches being written, the excitement was building towards the EU Mock Live Debate in front of the whole of York House; some 140 students.
The debating arena mirrored that of the House of Commons in Parliament with opposing MMP’s delivering their speeches and inviting questions. As the challenges began, York House students engaged in the debate challenging specific MMP’s on their views on whether to stay or leave the EU and addressing them as “The Right Honourable…”
With the audience aged between 11 and 15, it was enlightening to see how engaged they were on political matters that would normally only concern adults. The debate drew to a close with the Speaker of the House introducing the start of the voting process where each tutor group would vote using ballot boxes.
The MMP’s then had the opportunity of meeting the MP for Rugby, Mark Pawsey here at Harris Academy. Mr Pawsey was kind enough to take time out to take questions from the MMP’s ranging from his view on the Referendum to why he became and MP to describing his typical working day. In true political spirit, the MMP’s put Mr Pawsey “on the spot” and as a result, increased their political knowledge and interest.
As voting progressed, conversation and excitement built towards the Result Day on Thursday 23rd June, the day of the actual EU Referendum. With all the votes in and counted, the Head of York House, Mr W Glendon-Doyle, announced the result in favour of the Leave campaign. The result brought to a close what was a successful debating process and a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience for York House students.
To reward the MMP’s and their key “political aides” for all of their hard work and effort, we travelled to London on Monday 27th June to visit the Houses of Parliament on what will become an important day in British political history, the day MP’s first debated on the result of the EU referendum and the Brexit future. Accessing via the new Education Centre, our group entered the Houses of Parliament through the entrance reserved for Royal visits and into the Royal Robing Room. Our guide explained in detail the ceremony that is involved in Royal visits to Parliament and showed us the gilded chair actually used by Queen Victoria during her visits. We progressed then through the State Room and into a small hall under which is where the Gunpowder Plot was discovered many years ago. The students were then introduced to the grandeur of the House of Lords where they stood within the benches studying the wealth of gold leaf. As we exited Lords, we could see Central Lobby ahead, the area in between the two chambers where public can meet their MP’s to discuss views. Members Lobby was next and the opportunity of seeing the House of Commons beckoned. The students entered through the doorway reserved for MP’s as they attend session. As the famous green leather benches came into view, the students’ excitement jumped with the prospect of seeing the Speaker’s Chair and standing where the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition stand during political debates. More questions were directed at our guide who expertly imparted knowledge upon the students. Our tour then took us into the Great Hall, the oldest surviving part of the Houses of Parliament. It was here that our tour drew to a close before we headed back to the Education Centre to take part in an Election & Voting Interactive Workshop. Once again, Mr Pawsey, MP for Rugby, took time out of a very busy schedule to meet with our MMP students and took further questions.
The trip to London completed what has been not only a very successful project but an experience that will remain in the students’ memories for years to come. Some of the students had not previously visited London and were able to see Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, St James’ Palace, Piccadilly and many more world-famous landmarks as part of our journey into and out of the Capital.
Here’s to another debating programme for next year!