Wallace High School Year 13 politics class visited London just before Easter and enjoyed an action-packed and informative three-day trip.
Head of department, Mr Neil Armstrong, documents the many highlights.
Day One: Upon arrival, we took a brisk stroll through Hyde Park for our first stop at Speakers Corne, an institutional cornerstone of British democracy that allows anyone the opportunity to speak, debate and discuss any of the major issues of the day. Having digested a range of conflicting political and ideological viewpoints, we made our way to Whitehall and the Churchill War Rooms.
As we made our way back into daylight, Mr Lowry began his tour of Whitehall, the area containing the major government departments and offices (such as 10 Downing Street). Following dinner, we visited the London Eye. After a dramatic 4D experience, we boarded our capsule for a scenic overview of the political and cultural sites of London by night.
Day Two: Our first stop of the day saw us visit The Wallace Collection which is named after the founder of our school and it houses an art and medieval weapons display to rival that of the National Gallery and the Louvre. Our tour guide expertly led us around the myriad rooms and corridors whilst extolling the virtues of the Wallace family and its close link to Lisburn.
Our second stop was the UK Supreme Court, located in Parliament Square. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and hears cases on a range of issues from divorce, murder, assisted suicide and property rights. The rulings of the 12 justices impact upon the whole of the legal system. We began our tour by sitting in on a Privy Council case from the Caribbean, which was being ruled upon by our local Supreme Court Justice, Lord Kerr. Our tour guide then led an engaging and thought provoking question and answer session with the students.
Following lunch, we made our way to Buckingham Palace and from there to our next event at the Fabian Society, a political think-tank which comes up with ideas for the Labour Party and which tries to push social issues to the top of the agenda of those in power. A panel of three staff lead a very insightful, challenging and intensive question and answer session.
Following some retail therapy on Regent Street, it was on to Leicester Square for dinner.
Day Three: Following breakfast, we made our way to the Houses of Parliament. Having successfully negotiated security, we began our tour, taking in the historical and political significance of the buildings. We were fortunate to witness the Speaker’s procession from his offices to the House of Commons.
Lagan Valley MP Jeffery Donaldson then met us and guided us to a committee room where we discussed and debated the key topics of the day for young people in Britain generally and the Lisburn area specifically. This session was invaluable for the students in trying to understand and articulate the important role played by MPs and Parliament in the democratic processes in the United Kingdom.
We then had the added bonus of being allowed to go down Downing Street to take hundreds of “selfies” outside the most famous address in London.
After collecting our bags and catching the Gatwick Express, we boarded our return flight home for some much needed rest and relaxation after our fun packed, educational and truly memorable politics trip to London.