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Hodder History Expert Blog

Parliament in the Making
By Holly Greenland
13 Nov
Engaging young people with Magna Carta and our democratic heritage in 2015 

2015 is a momentous year for the Houses of Parliament as we commemorate a series of major anniversaries, including 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta and the 750th anniversary of Simon de Montfort’s representative parliament, which paved the way for the House of Commons as we know it today.

Throughout 2015, across the country, Parliament will bring communities and individuals of all ages together to mark and remember the movements and moments that tell the story of Parliament in the Making.

Central to the programme is the aim to engage young people, particularly those in formal education, with the key anniversaries and the broader narrative of our democratic heritage.

To deliver this aim, my Projects and Resources team have been busy developing series of youth focused activities, partnerships and resources to bring these complex historic moments to life. The suite is aimed at a range of ages (with a focus on KS3) and intends to offer a variety of formats and approaches to suit different teaching styles and the limited time we know may be available in busy academic diaries.

Below is a taster of our plans:
  • The 2015 Flag Project will mark the anniversary of the Montfort Parliament. Six hundred and fifty primary schools (KS2), one from every constituency, have been invited to design a flag to represent their area. All the flags will ‘fly’ online in a digital exhibition and a selection will fly in Parliament Square at a special launch event in March 2015. Thereafter any school can take part in the project, adding their flag to the digital exhibition.
  • Teachers of students at KS2 and 3 can use two short video dramas, available now, with associated lesson and assembly resources, to introduce the stories of Magna Carta and Simon de Montfort. Designed to be accessible and inspiring, the dramas use graphic-novel-style illustrations to explore the anniversaries through key characters.
  • An assembly resource suitable for all ages is being designed to commemorate Magna Carta in June. This resource will ensure both Primary and Secondary schools can get involved in the programme and commemorate a major moment in our democratic heritage with as little as 20 minutes available in their calendars.
  • Parliament has worked with Girl Guiding to create a brand new challenge badge, ‘Girls Matter: Hear Our Voice’ launching in 2015. The badge is supported by bespoke resources designed for group leaders utilising Parliament’s suite of educational activities and projects.
  • In spring 2015 a major new digital resource supporting KS3 students studying the ‘Magna Carta and the Emergence of Parliament’ history curriculum strand will launch. This interactive, online portal is being developed in partnership with The National Archives and will include documents never before digitised.

In addition to the specific 2015 resources and projects outlined above, teachers, facilitators and educators can explore over 80 resources on Parliament’s comprehensive Education website. If educators want to focus on a specific area of Parliament’s past or present, these resources are ideal as they explore the people, processes and history of Parliament. Resources range from core skills such as debating and campaigning, to exploring historical moments including the Gunpowder Plot and the Suffragettes

Beyond activity designed for young people, the 2015 Parliament in the Making team have developed a vibrant UK-wide programme to engage the public at all ages through cultural events and activities. Along with the spring election, it’s going to be a busy time for Parliament and a unique opportunity to connect to our democratic heritage throughout the year. You can find out about the full programme now at www.parliament.uk/2015.

Parliament is also inviting people to share their photos and thoughts about the programme by using the hashtag #parliament2015 on Twitter and Instagram.

If you are interested in finding out more about our 2015 education resources and projects for young people, please get in touch – greenlandh@parliament.uk.

Holly Greenland

Holly Greenland manages the Learning and Digital teams within Parliament's Public Engagement and Learning Department. Projects range from producing animations and printed publications to developing augmented reality apps or running national schools competitions, all with the aim of connecting the public with parliament, politics and democracy. 
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