Thursday, February 22, 2024

Students’ reflections from their trip to London | Children’s Commissioner for England

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42 students from Magnificat MAC came to London on a study trip, organised by their schools. They visited the Children’s Commissioner’s Office, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. We asked them what they thought of their day in London. Here is what they said.

“To start our trip to London we went to the Department for Education to meet the Children’s Commissioner of England, Dame Rachel de Souza. We had the opportunity to ask her questions and learn about her role in protecting the rights of children in the UK. It was a great learning experience for all of us and inspired me personally to look at roles within the Civil Service that I had never considered before.  We also learnt about how she worked her way from being a teacher in Scunthorpe and then head teacher to becoming the CEO of the Inspiration Trust to then becoming Children’s Commissioner for England.

“We also had the privilege of visiting the Houses of Parliament to watch what goes on during the day and had the amazing opportunity of watching Theresa May speak about the legacy of the first female speaker of the House of Commons. We were delighted to see other MPs such as Boris Johnson.  We learnt about the history of Parliament such as who the first female speaker was and about the diverse history of the building.

“Westminster Abbey is a historic and iconic landmark in London that is known for its beautiful architecture and rich history. I had the opportunity to visit the Abbey as part of our trip to London, and the experience was truly unforgettable. One of the highlights of my visit was seeing the Coronation Chair, which has been used in the coronation of British monarchs for over 700 years. The chair is a symbol of the British monarchy and is steeped in history and tradition.  Another highlight of the visit was the Poet’s Corner, which is a section of the Abbey that honours some of the greatest poets and writers in British history, such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen.

“Overall, I had an enjoyable experience and made some friends across the two other schools.  The trip helped me grow and expand my ideas on what I would like to do in the future, and I really benefited from asking and listening to the experiences of people like the Children’s Commissioner.”
Boy, 17

“The trip really allowed me to explore my future ambitions. In particular, our visit to the Children’s Commissioner’s Office was a great opportunity to witness the role of public servants. We were greeted courteously and then listened to an engaging presentation that covered the possible career options within different departments.

“We were then greeted by the Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza who offered an insightful Q and A on various aspects of educational policy and strategies. It was fabulous to be given the opportunity as students to ask questions that we feel are important to us, including both on SEND provision/funding and mental health initiatives post pandemic. In short it was both an educational and enlightening experience. As a group we enjoyed the rest of our day in Westminster with pupils from other schools in our community and hope the trip continues for future students.”
Girl, 17

“Thank you for arranging such a wonderful trip and selecting us to be a part of it. Everyone felt pride to be there. The trip was amazing and we were happy and pleased to be there with so many other pupils from the other schools.

“The most motivating moment I had across the entire day was meeting the Children’s Commissioner.  As she stood before me and spoke about her work it was incredibly inspiring and made me think about my own future dreams. Having arrived from Chad only 18 months ago seeking asylum this country has provided me a place of refuge.

“When we moved onto the mighty Houses of Parliament, I was in awe of the speaker, the Ministers and the debating politicians. I found the scene uplifting as I aspire to be the first democratically elected president of Chad – this would be a dream come true, but it’s a long way off.”
Boy, 17

“I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Children’s Commissioner for England during my recent school visit to London. We exchanged debate about the current void of neurodivergent support within the secondary environment. We agreed that this area had not been given the focus it needs for a long time. I was left believing that she has an ambition to tackle some of the issues that face schools through making sure everyone is not only fully attending in school, but that lessons are taught in the best possible way for them. We both know and acknowledge the hard work and time that needs to go into this to make it work properly.  I would like to congratulate the Commissioner on her new statement in response to SEND and hope this reaches her ambitions.”
Boy, 17

“It was really nice to have had an opportunity to make new friends with other students. When we arrived in London we headed straight to the Department for Education where we got to meet people that work in different areas and find out different routes into the profession. We met the Children’s Commissioner, Rachel de Souza for a Q&A session. She explained how she got to the position she is in now and then we had the chance to ask her any questions we might’ve had about the education system, especially how covid affected the achievement of pupils and how the Department for Education will make sure that all children have a fair chance. This really made me think about how important the work of government is to address social injustice and ensure the most vulnerable have the support they need.”

Girl, 18

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