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Pupil Parliament Visit City Hall

On Monday 18th November, the sixteen members of our Tapscott Learning Trust Pupil Parliament visited City Hall. It was a chance to take in breath taking views of the city, to experience democracy in action and to learn about London's incredible history.

The tour started with a fascinating talk from Richard, our knowledgeable and charismatic guide and storyteller for the day. “Do you think of yourselves as politicians? You are already politicians!” Richard told the children, who listened intently as he took them through the history of London democracy.

The children took a “behind the scenes” route (“This is the route the queen took when she came here!” Richard told us) up to the balcony, taking in views across the city. There were so many stories to accompany the views - from the story of Jumbo the elephant, the Victorian resident of The Tower of London and inspiration for The Greatest Showman movie, to the theory that in 1968, the American tycoon Robert P. McCulloch accidentally bought London Bridge, instead of the much more striking Tower Bridge, for 2.5 million dollars, twice the expected value.

 Richard prompted the children to compare the open architecture of City Hall and its open style of democracy, to the foreboding architecture of the Tower of London and a very different sort of rule.

The balcony tour was followed by a big question posed to the children: “Is London the Greatest City in the World”? A dramatic film sequence took us through London’s history as the children scribbled in their notepads, not wanting to miss a moment. The history lead us through the historic (60CE Boudicca invades) to the political (1265 - the first elected parliament) to the quirky (1780 - William Addis invents the toothbrush in Clerkenwell) to the heart-wrenching (1939 - London children are evacuated from the city) to the exhilarating (2012 - London Olympics). When the film ended, the children and teachers couldn’t help but burst into applause with a swelling pride for their home city.

Richard was inundated with a range of varied and thoughtful questions from the Pupil Parliament, inspired by their learning from the day. Kajus from North Beckton wanted to know if Boris Johnson had wanted to be Prime Minister back when he was the Mayor of London. Sana from Kensington wanted to know when the Thames Barrier was built and why. Abdul from Ranelagh had been paying attention, as he had some follow up questions about housing which he had explored with Councillor Julianne Marriot when she had visited their school the week before. And Rayyan from Kensington was clearly inspired: he wanted to know how he could get a job at City Hall!

Richard was so impressed with the questions, he offered the children a rather special treat - to sit at the round table in the conference room where the Mayor holds Mayor’s Question Time.

Before the day drew to a close, the children thought it was time to take a bit of action of their own. Their Pupil Parliament meeting took place overlooking London Bridge in City Hall. They had some serious work to do, planning their forthcoming funding bid for a project centring on mental health. They will be returning to City Hall to bid for funding to realise their plans at the beginning of December. Watch this space!