Head of Politics selected for UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador Programme!

Congratulations to Gavin, our Course Team Leader for A Level Politics, who earlier this summer was successfully selected and took part in the Teacher Ambassador programme for the UK Parliament!! 

Gavin Sheffield, Politics A Level CTL - 

This year I applied and was selected to take part in the Teacher Ambassador programme for the UK Parliament. This initially involved my attending a 3 day workshop in Westminster between the 26th and 28th June based around the work of the dedicated Parliamentary Education Unit. The purpose of the programme is to enable teachers to become ambassadors for the institution and use our influence and abilities with young people to encourage the study of and engagement with the UK Parliament. This is especially important at a time when MPs and Parliament in general, have been subject to a great deal of cynicism.

Over three full days of excellent activities my colleagues and I attended talks concerning the variety and substance of the work carried out by MPs, Peers and their multitude of support and administrative staff including Hannah Stone, the Chair of the Petitions Committee and Sarah Davies, the Managing Director of Chamber and Participation, who is normally visible on televised coverage of the Commons. Liberal Democrat Layla Moran MP spoke about her transition from teaching to becoming the member for Oxford West and Abingdon and Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall answered questions on her role as a life Peer appointed by Tony Blair following a successful career in the arts. In addition to members of the Commons and Lords, we also heard from Sarah Binstead Chapman on her work as Senior Doorkeeper in the Commons, a role that has included her ceremonially ‘slamming’ the chamber door into the face of monarch’s representative on the State Opening of Parliament.

Meeting the Speaker Sir Lyndsay Hoyle was a particular highlight as we had the benefit of a tour around his apartments and observed his procession through the Central Lobby to open the Commons. This, alongside a Q and A session with Lord McFall of Alcluith, the Lord Speaker, in which he discussed his love of podcasts alongside his first-hand ministerial experience of visiting the site of the Omagh bombing in 1998 were a further fascinating insight into the work of senior members of Parliament.

Visiting the Parliamentary broadcast unit was also a valuable experience as we got to see live coverage of both chambers with feeds to all the major networks around the UK and even got the chance to stand in the footsteps of the BSL interpreter for live images of a division in the Commons. This, along with several other aspects of the programme, are useful reminders to teachers as to the number of roles available within the Parliamentary estates which can be vital when discussing future employment with our students. All speakers were keen to discuss the employment opportunities within Parliament and encouraged us to share this to those we teach.

The 3 days spent at Westminster with the Education Unit led by David Carr have been a rewarding and inspiring experience and I fully intend to ensure that as a teacher ambassador, I will pass on a great deal to our students.