Hannah is a 15 year old student who has just completed a week of work experience with me. She was a bright and enthusiastic student very interested in the work we do and I said I would put her thoughts on the Blog. Here they are:
There are many ways in which the Peers from the House of Lords reach out to the public to engage and involve us in the democratic process. Having just completed a week of work experience with Lord Soley, I have come to realise that a huge number of people are involved in a wide range of roles all aimed at raising awareness of the work of Parliament. Most people know that there is a television programme, BBC Parliament, which airs the debates held in the both chambers, but a week spent in the House of Lords showed me that there is so much more to see.
Amongst the many new and exciting experiences I had during the week, was a visit to the education service, where I discovered that a variety of complimentary resources such as leaflets and DVDs are produced for schools. I suspect that a worryingly large percentage of the public is unaware of the work done by the House of Lords, so the Education Department’s job is to make the information accessible and interesting to young people. A programme designed to get young people involved, is the “Speaker’s School Council Awards”. This is a national award scheme which recognises and celebrates excellence in school councils. It invites schools and colleges from across the country to nominate their most innovative and effective projects.
Another way in which the peers reach out to the public is through the “Outreach Programme”. This is designed to give schools the opportunity to either arrange for a peer to visit, or for pupils to attend a lecture in the Robing Room. The Lords also host a schools’ annual debate in the Chamber, to foster enthusiasm in the art of public speaking.
A final element to the Outreach Programme is a competition, again aimed at young people, to nominate a potential peer. Past winners wrote essays and created videos to justify their reasoning.
During my busy and fascinating week, I became aware of all the above but also that this is just a flavour of the extensive work done by this austere body.