This term, P7 and P6/7 have been working together to learn more about the Scottish Parliament and how it works.
We kicked off the term with a visit to the Parliament. We enjoyed an educational session which introduced the pupils to various aspects of the Parliament and how it works. Pupils learned about devolved and reserved matters; the role of committees; how a bill becomes law; and some of the history of the Parliament.
Since the Parliament was not in session, we were then given a tour of the debating chamber. Our visit finished with a question and answer session with Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi.
In order to investigate how laws are made in more detail, we then engaged in an interesting co-operative learning activity. Pupils organised themselves into different committees, reflecting various areas of school life. The committees were then charged with creating a piece of legislation to change that area of school life for the better.
Pupils followed the various stages of real-life parliamentary procedure. Each group undertook a public consultation process, devising a questionnaire to gauge pupils’ views about the matter on which they were legislating. They collated the results of these questionnaires and used these to help decide on the content of their bill – a useful way of using maths in a real life context.
Each committee then drafted their bill and presented it to ‘Parliament’ for approval. Pupils were invited to debate each bill and suggest amendments to it, which were then approved or rejected – all under the watchful eye of some very keen Presiding Officers!
Finally, the completed bills were voted on by our Parliament.
Through this process, the pupils learned a lot about how legislation is passed, and the various considerations which MSPs must take into account when creating new laws.
Pupils have also studied a couple of real life Acts of the Scottish Parliament, and our practical exercise has given the pupils a much greater insight into the thinking behind the laws.
This term, we have mainly focused on the technical side of the Scottish Parliament – i.e. how the Parliament works and how laws are made. We intend to focus more on the political side – e.g. elections and political parties – in the run up to the Holyrood elections on Thursday May 5th, as this will provide a meaningful context for pupils’ learning. However, it’s fair to say that we already have some political enthusiasts in our midst – as can be seen for the ‘lively’ reactions of some of our learners during our regular viewing of First Minister’s Questions and Prime Minister’s Questions!
It has been good to see our young people engaging with the democractic process in such an enthusiastic and meaningful way, and learning activities such as these provide invaluable support to our young people as they aim to become responsible citizens of today and tomorrow.