Opening the doors of Parliament to schoolchildren

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Over the past month, I have been delighted to see four different Pendle school trips to Parliament.

I welcomed 19 children and their teachers from Marsden Community Primary School, Nelson, followed by another group of 19 from Pendle Vale College. Both visits following soon after Earby Springfield Primary and Barrowford St Thomas’s who came during Local Elections week.

Of the many different questions I get asked by schoolchildren visiting Parliament, one that often comes up is what first sparked my interest in politics. My own trip to Parliament when at primary school stands out clearly in my mind.

It was almost certainly my first trip to London and the tour of the Houses of Parliament gave me an insight into what at the time seemed a different world. The tour guide’s description of the battles between Monarchy and Parliament, the Civil War, and the great occasions of state fired my imagination in a way no classroom-based lesson ever did.

Therefore, when I was elected in 2010 I was keen to ensure as many local children as possible got the chance to visit Parliament. Sadly, back then only three or four Pendle schools visited Parliament each a year – not good enough given there are over 50 schools in the borough.

I am pleased to say that so far this year 14 Pendle schools have arranged trips to Parliament. Many taking advantage of a 75% travel subsidy helping them with the costs of coach or rail travel to London. The feedback from parents, teachers and the children has been amazing with many describing it as an unforgettable experience. Even if not all the children who visit decide they want to become MPs, I hope these visits inspire a new generation to take an interest in how they can shape our nation’s future.