Louis Sugden, newly qualified teacher (NQT) at Cromwell Community College, part of the Active Learning Trust, is empowering local students and teachers to be more actively involved with Parliament through his involvement with the Parliament Education Service.
At the beginning of 2018, Louis successfully applied for to an opportunity to attend a three-day teachers institute event at the Houses of Parliament along with thirty other attendees from across the UK.
Louis Sugden, Teacher of humanities at Cromwell Community College, said: "I was first made aware of the Parliament Education Service through Stephen Barclay, Member of Parliament for North East Cambridgeshire, who sent the opportunity to our Principal, Jane Horn. As a History and Politics University graduate, I have a strong interest in how parliament works and I'm eager to continue my learning to inspire young people and colleagues about Parliament and democracy to ultimately become active citizens.
“The three-day event was a very exciting experience. Myself and the other attendees were given a tour of the House of Commons and the opportunity to question the House of Commons Speaker and the Lord Speaker. We learnt about the role of the speakers and how important impartiality is to allow different points of view to be heard. We also heard from parliamentarians of all parties about their work in the Commons and Lords.”
Since attending the event, Louis has become a UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador and gives talks to teachers and pupils within the Active Learning Trust about democracy and the Houses of Parliament.
Louis added: "The most important part for me from this whole experience is taking the learning back and empowering young people with knowledge. As part of my continued professional development, I held a session about my role as ambassador to all staff at Cromwell Community College. I highlighted government initiatives that are in place but perhaps unknown, such as if you organise an educational trip to Parliament then you are entitled to a percentage of the travel costs back.
"It is important for teachers to understand Parliament to be able to explain to their students, however you do not need to be an expert on the subject. There are so many different ways to be an active citizen. Within primary schools, a class of Year Six pupils understands why they have team captains and why it is fair that those people are often elected - but perhaps wouldn’t have connected the two ideas. Being involved in Parliament and democracy isn't all new learning and it is often taking a different perspective on our British values and why we do things a certain way.
"I have also spoke in assemblies to explain how parliament works and ways that students can engage in democracy. OK, so we know that within the UK to vote in the general election you must be 18, but you can write to parliament or start a petition. I know of a student who has been inspired successfully petition their local council to add feminism as a topic to its learning specification.
"Putting theory into practice is very beneficial. I have organised visits from local MPs and this exposure has been great for students to ask questions and to bridge the gap from the concept of Parliament to hearing from a person about what they do and why. I know that as a result, classes have continued to keep in touch with their MP and write to them on different topics."
Jane Horn, Principal at Cromwell Community College, added: "Louis is continuing to be an incredibly active member of the Cromwell team, where we strive for a purposeful environment where our pupils make a positive contribution to the community. Becoming a UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador within your first year as an NQT is quite the achievement, and I'm looking forward to continuing to see greatness from Louis - well done!"
Cromwell Community College is part of the Active Learning Trust. The Active Learning Trust seeks to promote a tolerant and informed view of the world and holds no political, cultural or religious affiliations. These core values underpin our commitment to provide the highest quality education for all our pupils so that they can go on to live fulfilling and responsible lives as active citizens.
For more information on Cromwell Community College, visit: www.cromwellcc.org.uk or for the Active Learning Trust visit: www.activelearningtrust.org.