Over 150 young people took to the floor of the House of Lords to speak out about our country’s place in the world after Brexit, hear what they had to say
Ellie-Mae Myles & Joshua Parkinson, student journalists from De Aston School give their account of the day…
On the 1st December, De Aston School’s Debating Society had an outstanding opportunity to attend the House of Lords Chamber Debate. De Aston was one of 10 schools in the UK, and the only school in the East of England, invited to debate in the Houses of Parliament. During the debate, there were two groups: one who worked as student journalists and the other who contributed to the formal debate in the House of Lords’ chamber.
This event allowed young people the chance to take part in a formal parliamentary debate, focusing on the UK’s challenges of global International Relations in the 21st Century. The debate was an incredible experience, with around 150 students from a variety of schools across the UK taking one of three perspectives on the debate. The first of these, represented by Charlotte Marriott (Yr11) who opened the floor debate, was the outright winner during the final vote, gaining 113 votes and had the view that the UK should work closely with global partner to achieve goals. The second perspective, represented by Chloe Chuck (Yr11) who gave a rousing speech full of emotion, gained 43 votes, representing those who felt the UK should become a global leader. Finally, the third perspective, represented by Sarah Gadalla (Yr11) who closed the whole proceedings, received 21 votes, representing those with the view that the UK should focus on its own domestic issues before interfering with the world.
During such a vital time as the Brexit negotiations, this showed what young people in this country think about international issues: the view of co-operation won by a large margin.
Getting the inside scoop
Ellie-Mae Myles (Yr11) and Joshua Parkinson (Yr13) took part as student journalists, gaining an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity that involved working with the House of Lords Press team, the Lord Speaker and former Minister under Thatcher, Norman Fowler and Matt Chorley, a journalist for the Times who runs the Red Box Podcast which looks at current affairs in politics.
These students were taken to Lord Norman Fowler’s office to interview him and, as it was World Aids Day, they were able to see how passionate Lord Fowler was about raising awareness of the AIDs epidemic due to seeing so many people suffering in hospital in the 1980s. The journalists had the chance to ask questions about the careers of these two veterans as well as the workings of their jobs and advice on how get into jobs in journalism or politics.
What did we learn?
At the end of the day, everyone agreed that the experience had improved their confidence and pride, and that they had all gained new information and an understanding of the issues being debated on the floor. Another important confidence boost was the knowledge that they could take part in a public speaking event – a particularly tough task when met with the overwhelming atmosphere of the House of Lords!
Each year the ESU runs a debate in the House of Lords which brings together groups from all over the UK. Over the past five years we’ve worked with schools and many other groups – from cadets and veterans, to the University of the Third Age and the Girl Guides. To find out more about this programme, head here.
All images: House of Lords 2017 / Photography by Roger Harris. View all the photos from the day here