A level Politics students at The Sixth Form College, Solihull journeyed to London this week to visit the Palace of Westminster and the Imperial War Museum.
The main focus of the trip was the Houses of Parliament. The 38-strong group of students congregated in Westminster Hall, which dates back to 1099, to meet our tour guide. The tour included a look inside the House of Lords and the House of Commons, recognisable from their frequent appearances of television. Our guide explained the rituals and traditions of both houses, including the role the monarchy plays in opening parliament; something that will happen next week. The history and the architecture was also explained to us and we admired the many paintings, tapestries and statues that adorn this famous building.
The fieldtrip also took in a visit to the Imperial War Museum. Here, the students visited the many fascinating exhibits, including those dedicated to the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Falkland’s War, the Gulf War and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The World War One exhibit even included a mock-up of a trench that you can walk through, complete with unpleasant but realistic smells piped in.
For many of the students, the most memorable exhibit was the Holocaust exhibit. This is an immensely moving exhibit, telling the tale of the persecution of Jews and many other groups by Nazi Germany during World War Two. It includes a model of Auschwitz and many artefacts rescued from this concentration camp, including hundreds of shoes from people who were killed in the gas chambers. There are video screens dotted throughout the exhibit, showing actual footage from the time and survivors talking of their experiences.
Mike Pattison, Politics teacher at the College, commented: “Despite driving rain, the students thoroughly enjoyed the fieldtrip and learnt a lot. Parliament is part of their A level Politics and Government course, so seeing it first hand brought it to life for them.
“In addition, the visit to the Imperial War Museum, was very beneficial. Wars are frequently fought as a result of political conflict, so the museum provided valuable background information for the students. The Holocaust exhibition was particularly hard-hitting. Many of the videos shown in this exhibit are very difficult to watch, but act as a fitting tribute to a terrible chapter in history that it is important we do not forget.”