A lively debate at St Helen’s House of Commons

As part of PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education) Years 9 & 10 took part in a Parliament Week debate recognising UK Parliament Week, a national initiative to raise awareness for the work of Parliament.

Mr Whalley, who teaches A Level Government & Politics, provided an insight into debating in the House of Commons.  He explained the role of the House of Commons and the Speaker and introduced the process and rules of debating. Our students took part in the adjournment debate:  ‘This House declares it’s support for the abolition of homework for school-aged children in England & Wales’. The hall was set up as in Parliament with the students sitting either side of the Speaker.

A spokesperson introduced the subject as a proposal/motion by student members – followed by the engaging debate. The students were called in turn to give their opinion on the issue and were asked to stand or half-rise from their seat to do so. Many students intervened to support or challenge the debate. Points in favour of the motion explained the effect of homework on children’s well-being and in comparison to Finland, we have a rigorous homework system. Points challenging the motion explained the self-discipline homework creates and the need to embed this culture at a young age to help support and educate the individual in later life.

As well as the adjournment debate on homework policy, the girls also conducted a ten-minute rule debate on voting rights for 16-17 year olds, an emergency debate on knife crime and an Opposition Day motion on abandoning Brexit.  They held voice votes for each of the motions: the education motion was passed, the voting rights motion was rejected, the knife crime motion was passed as was the Brexit motion.  Students who spoke from the floor were Jenany, Rianna, Emily, Riya, Nyah, Arshia and Riya.

Our students were passionate and confident as they expressed their points of view and thoroughly enjoyed this practical and lively session.