Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow made a memorable visit to Wellington College on Friday 7 June 2019. Mr Bercow gave a fascinating insight into the practical workings of Westminster, including how during his time as Speaker the Parliamentary shooting gallery has shut down, but daycare for children of working mums has been introduced.
Praising the diverse social mix in his audience, Mr Bercow stressed that Parliament has become a more diverse place and encouraged young people of all backgrounds to get involved in politics and democracy. Pupils from Wellington College were joined by friends from Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Methodist College Belfast, St. Joseph’s College and Breda Academy for the visit. Pupils attending included Student Council representatives, pupils involved in Shared Education initiatives, and those studying History and Politics. The pupils were also delighted to have Emma Little-Pengelly, MP for South Belfast, join Mr Bercow for the session.
Mr Bercow answered questions on diverse topics including online voting, whether the UK should have a written constitution, and, in a light hearted moment, who would play him in a film.
Speaking after the visit, Hannah Douglas, Head Girl of Wellington College, said that “sometimes Westminster can seem very far away so it was fantastic that the Speaker came to us, and showed how important parliament is to matters which affect us every day”.
Bailey Camack, Head Boy of Wellington College, added “he made politics seem much more accessible than it is portrayed in the media, and talked really passionately about issues which we care about”.
“We were delighted to have such a high profile political figure join us at Wellington,” noted David Castles, Principal of Wellington College. “Mr Bercow was generous with his time and showed genuine interest in the issues the pupils from different schools raised; he was also great fun. It was a memorable visit.”