Year 5 take a trip to the Council Chambers
The children in Year 5 decided to find out all about the Commonwealth after finding out that we had been invited as a school to take part in the Commonwealth Day celebrations at Westminster Abbey. This led us to discuss democracy and voting. The children decided they would like to hold a real debate with the power to vote. We found out lots of information about how to run a debate and the different roles required. We learnt where the Chairperson sits and where the proposers of the motion sit and of course the opposers too. We also found out that there is a timekeeper so that each speaker is allowed the same amount of time to put forward their motion. With all the recent voting over Brexit, we also took a look at the Speaker in the House of Commons. It was all very exciting!
The children then wrote their speeches and decided whether they wanted to speak for or against the motion. When all our preparations were finished, we set off to the Council Chambers at the Town Hall. It was really impressive that the children headed straight for their seats- they knew exactly where to sit having learnt all about it. The debate ran smoothly although the Chairperson did have to bang his gavel down a few times with cries of, “Order!” every now and then. There were lots of questions and children were standing up waiting for the Chairperson to allow “the honourable lady” and “the honourable gentleman “ to argue with the speakers.
There was a lot of discussion and ended with the “ayes” and the “nos” being equally loud for the vote – so we had then to move to a ballot. Finally the votes were counted and the motion was carried. As you can imagine we really needed the juice that Mr Murtagh at the Town Hall had provided and we took our refreshments in the Courtroom upstairs. This is where, as an added bonus, we heard a few ghost stories from Mr Murtagh and learnt about the restoration of the plaques on the wall in the Courtroom from experts. It was an excellent experience for all concerned.