A teacher from Gomersal Primary School in Cleckheaton went behind the scenes at the Houses of Parliament and hailed the “wonderful way it all truly works”.
A Specialist Leader in Education for Art in Primary School, Mandy Barrett was selected from more than 170 applicants to attend the three-day event in London.
She said: “Everything was incredibly well organised from start to finish.
“The Parliamentary Education team were faultless in their organisation, ensuring we all felt welcome and informed.
“The commute into Westminster on the Monday morning was incredibly different from my 10 minute, quiet drive into school, but we were all excited to begin the training.
“First we met in Portcullis House, a stunning building!
It truly is a wonderful insight into the way Parliament really works.Mandy Barrett
“We then had a wonderful tour of Parliament, the contrast in buildings was incredible. It was exciting to see behind the scenes and learn, in depth, just how Parliament works. We had a tour of the Speaker’s apartments and met John Bercow himself.
“He was an incredibly interesting character and answered our questions about his role in Parliament. We learnt about the different opportunities he gives to schools such as Skype the Speaker and awards for school councils.
“We also met Baroness Grey-Thompson who spoke to us at length about the work undertaken by the House of Lords. They also offer outreach programmes for schools.
“This was an incredible insight into how Parliament truly works – it is not always represented well in the media, so this was a great opportunity to see what is was like both behind the scenes and within the chambers.”
Mandy said they had the opportunity to meet with MPs, Lords, Baronesses and members of staff from door keepers to committee members and security staff.
“I found it interesting sitting in the galleries of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons listening to debates,” she said,
“We built up quite a rapport with the door keepers to the galleries, as we were constantly having to ‘check in’ our handbags and phones.
“My MP Tracy Brabin spoke to us all about the role of an MP and beautifully answered some pretty challenging questions.
“As a Shadow minister for Education (Early Years) we were a captive audience. I have met Tracy on a few occasions and it was lovely to see a familiar face in such an unfamiliar and often imposing building.”
Now Mandy can apply to be a Gold, Silver or Bronze Parliament Ambassador - and is going for Gold. It is now her role to teach children about Parliament – how it works, why it’s there and convince children that, when their time comes, it is important to vote.
“It’s incredibly important that children learn about democracy and how a democratic model can often be used in schools to promote and encourage change.”
Tracy Brabin visited Gomersal Primary School to talk to Mandy about her course and to meet the school Arts Council. The children asked her about her job and discussed what they were going to do in school so children are more informed about the role of the government.
Mandy highly recommends applying for the next round of the Parliament Teacher Ambassadors scheme.
“It truly is a wonderful insight into the way Parliament really works,” she added.
Mandy had been made aware of the UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador scheme when Tracy Brabin sent an email to her school about it.
“I was immediately interested and filled in the application form,” said Mandy.
“I was the only representative from West Yorkshire – there were around 70 people on the programme from all different schools across the UK.”
Next up, youngsters from Gomersal Primary School have got a slot to speak about the importance of art in the House of Commons at an APPG meeting on March 14.