Five ways to learn with the Houses of Parliament

Date Posted: 31/01/2018

We look at all that is on offer at The Houses of Parliament, from online resources to educational visits with your school group.

The Houses of Parliament in London offers an educational programme which combines plenty of resources with visits and activities to inspire the next generation. It also has an outreach programme for those unable to visit.

1. Education Centre visits

The Education Centre has five themed learning spaces where school visitors can learn about UK Parliament. These spaces use interactive 360° projections, voting pods and tablet technology to engage young visitors.

Learning programmes link to a range of subjects across the UK curricula for ages five to 18 and explore different aspects of the role, work and history of Parliament. All programmes include a tour of the Houses of Parliament and the opportunity to meet your local MP. 

Various workshops are available when visiting including topics such as the laws and debating, representation and voting, campaigning and Parliament, and Chance's Story: The Rebuilding of Parliament, suitable for Key Stage 1. All workshops can be combined with a tour of the facilities.

2. Democratic access tours

Democratic access tours are available to school groups free of charge. A trained guide will accompany you on a tour that recounts the history of the Palace of Westminster and explains how the business and traditions of both Houses contribute to the day to day workings of the UK Parliament. Schools should contact their local MP or a member of the House of Lords to arrange a tour.

Houses of Parliament

Pictured: The Houses of Parliament.

3. School outreach

The Regional Outreach Officers can also go into schools and deliver inspiring assemblies and workshops. These free, curricula linked sessions support pupils to discover what the UK Parliament is, how it is relevant to them, and how they can get involved and be active citizens. These visits can be arranged either before or after a visit to the attraction and can help develop pupil’s understanding of Politics further.

4. Skype the Speaker

Skype the Speaker is a weekly live question and answer session for students aged five to 18. Using Skype, students can put their questions to the Speaker of the House of Commons from their school hall or classroom. To apply, teachers can e-mail skypethespeaker@parliament.uk. This activity is ideal for schools either looking to book a visit or for those who have just been and enables pupils to feel more involved and have their voice heard.

5. Online resources

For pupils aged 11 to 16, a series of classroom worksheets focusing on debating techniques, structuring effective arguments and finding suitable topics for debate is available. There are also resources exploring the campaign for women’s voting rights, starting with the first mass petition for the cause in 1866.

Stories from Parliament, suitable for ages seven to 11, is a series of videos each telling a story from Parliament’s past. Episodes include The Gunpowder Plot, The Fire of 1834 and Votes for Women, highlighting some key moments in history. These resources can be used before or after a visit and can help solidify what pupils are learning about.

For more information on what the Houses of Parliament can offer schools, visit www.parliament.uk/education

School Travel Organiser's Guide