As a busy term draws to a busy close Year 10 pupils spent two days mixing history and politics as they went on trips with pupils from St Mary’s High School Downpatrick as part of our Shared Education Programme.
Over 130 pupils took a day visiting The Somme Heritage centre or Stormont followed by a bus tour of Belfast focussing on the geographical divisions at the heart of the city exploring how these divisions are shown through murals.
The trips follow on from work done in both History and LLW in both schools that has looked at WW1 and the institutions of government.
In Stormont pupils engaged in debates regarding school uniforms and laws pertaining to cycling. Given the absence of MLA’s pupils were able to fill the leather benches and bring democracy to life! Votes were held and it was unanimously decided that uniforms should be banned and that cycle licences should be introduced. There wasn’t a petition of concern or a cross community vote in sight as pupils from both school traipsed through the lobbies.
Students also met a number of MLA’s who told them about their work and lives. Phillip McGuigan from Sinn Fein, Robbie Butler from the UUP and Kelly Armstrong from the Alliance Party all of whom gave generously of their time as they responded to questions about everything from transport to how you became a butcher!
Later that day students were split up and jumbled up as one bus headed to the Falls and the other to the Shankill after critical consideration of the respective murals found on each road pupils met at the peace wall on Lanark Way.
The second day (or first depending on your group) saw pupils go to the Somme Heritage Centre where they were divided into 3 groups and had the opportunity to explore many of the weapons that were used during the Great War while the other groups undertook a chronological tour through why so many signed up and the experiences of a soldiers life including a walk through a reconstruction of a trench. The tour concluded with a short film looking at the sacrifices of the men and women from this island.
Many thanks to the staff at Stormont, the MLA’s, the guides at the Somme Centre and all the teachers that helped make the trips happen.