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18th July 2022

Oakham pupils attend work experience in Parliament during exciting time in UK politics

In recent weeks Oakham pupils have enjoyed attending work experience placements in Parliament, and making the most of the opportunities provided during such an exciting time in UK politics.

Form 6 pupil Ben, who was shadowing Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, said, “My work experience in Parliament turned out to be during the most consequential week in British Politics in three years. I am delighted to have been ‘on the ground’ as all the events unfolded – it has given me an excellent insight into party politics and, more narrowly, the workings of government. The highlight must be being able to attend the Liaison Committee where the Prime Minister was being questioned by the heads of all of the Select Committees – the atmosphere in the room was electric.”

Ben continues, “Watching the downfall of the Johnson Government was not the only thing I did however; I drafted a brief for Alicia Kearns in the Foreign Affairs Committee on the UK-Japan security relationship viewed through the lens of the Indo-Pacific. In attendance were many authorities on Japan, including a Former Editor-in-Chief at The Economist. I was especially proud to have one of my suggested questions about the possibility of the UK joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue asked on the floor of the Committee. Overall, this experience has been infinitely valuable for me, for it is not every day one witnesses the collapse of a government firsthand.”

Seventh former Wilby was at Parliament with Tom Pursglove MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, and said, “I had a tour of Westminster and watched debates in the House of Commons from the Chamber gallery on Ukraine, passports and Rwanda, followed by an urgent question on sanctions to Russia. I also spent time out and about in the constituency with Tom. Following the by-election defeats in Wakefield and Tiverton, Tom had been briefed on the official message from the party as a minister in case the media were present. We then went back to the office and Tom had two surgeries – one virtual and one in-person.  Whilst all the topics and details are confidential it was again eye-opening as to how an MP supports and listens to constituents with a huge variety of issues. Finally we went to St Michael’s Parish Church outside Corby to see the new church bells. A very busy day for Tom with a lot of contrasting activities and visits, and for me an introduction to what life in the constituency is about for an MP. The placement was a good experience and an eye-opener as to what life in the centre of the UK political sphere is like.”

Seventh former Peter who was shadowing Chris Heaton Harris, MP for Daventry, tells us more about his placement:-

“I carried out casework and was tasked with updating the website. Amidst the crisis over passports, it was my responsibility to go to a section of the Home Office in order to push them to elevate the processes of two constituents who had been waiting for their passports. Another task was to update the social media and I planned and drafted a post based on current affairs. I went to see Prime Minister’s Questions from the press gallery and was given a tour of the press offices within the Houses of Parliament. Other tasks included drafting and then sending out invitations to headteachers across Daventry inviting them to take part in a recycling initiative.

I would certainly recommend this placement to others, particularly to those desiring to enter the world of politics. I certainly learned a lot more than I anticipated. Furthermore, I had a lot more responsibility than I was expecting, which improved the overall experience. However, even if you are unsure, it is still worth doing, as the skills are fairly universal and it may open your eyes to other careers within politics such as journalism or an advisor.”

If there are any employers that could offer a work experience placement to one of our students next summer, please contact Caroline Atkinson at CLA@oakham.rutland.sch.uk.

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