Taking Kids to Parliament

I have written previously about the joyous collections of oddbods that is my School Council. I mean this in a purely positive way. I have been extremely firm in my desire to ensure that democratic processes are followed to the letter, and as a consequence, we have a real mix of personalities in our council.

From the 6 year olds whose quirky personalities ingratiated them to their classmates, to the 8 year olds whose passion and humour and sheer randomness won over their chums to the fiercely articulate and vocal 11 year olds who see the School Council as a stepping stone to world domination, we have them all. They chair their own meetings and produce their own agenda and I aim to just facilitate them.

They called a referendum a few months ago, and went a bit rogue; they banned the loudspeaker from the playground, and this wasn’t strictly theirs to ban. They invited the headteacher to our meeting without asking me about it. They are fun.

Trips pose a different challenge; any primary teacher knows that the way you interact with your Year 6s is wildly different from the way you interact with your youngest Year 2 kids. I find myself having to float in the middle. I sidestep from the handholding and the teacher face with the youngest and most difficult members directly into intellectual chatter about the fall of democracy with the Year 6s.

Today, we visited the Houses of Parliament. The first thing I will say is that it was an excellent thing to do, and was incredibly insightful and well-organised on their part. The kids were keen and giddy on the train – again, bottle-flipping and also attempting to climb the poles inside the carriage.

They learned about the history of parliament, about the huge fire that tore the building apart and about the reasons why the Queen cannot intervene in day-to-day politics. The kids ambled about, veering between being interested in paintings and chandeliers, asking leftfield questions and constantly asking for snacks.

The scariest moment for me was when a particular gregarious and inquisitive member of my squad decided to walk up to a heavily armed police officer and attempt to pat his gun, but the officer quickly and professionally shooed him away, with good humour.

As we left parliament, I crossed paths with Hilary Benn, who is not going to be on my Christmas card list.

My lingering thought from the day was simply this; I need to write a children’s book featuring the children in my school council. They represent some of the most sensible, intellectual, funny, odd, expressive and simply interesting kids I’ve taught. What is even more odd is that they are starting to get along.

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