Peers in Schools….

Throughout my academic career, I have spent time speaking at schools and sixth-form conferences.  For over a decade I have spoken in schools as part of the ‘Peers in Schools’ programme.  Started in 2007, it involves secondary schools being asked if they would like a member of the House of Lords to come and speak about the role of the House.  Many peers participate and since the scheme started, it is estimated that we have spoken in about 2,000 schools to over 100,000 pupils.

I have spoken most often to schools in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, but have also covered schools in different parts of the country.  In a number of cases, it is repeat visit.  Last week, for example, I spoke to politics students at King’s School, Grantham (photograph top right), and later in the week to Year 12 pupils at Skegness Grammar School (photograph bottom right).  I had spoken at both before and greatly enjoyed the occasions.  Both were notable for the number and wide range of questions.  They covered not only the Lords, but wider constitutional issues as well as current policies.  The question that I had most difficulty in answering was the final one at the King’s School: who are the four people, alive or dead, I would most like to have dinner with?  Took me ages to even think of one person, let alone four.

Some of the talks are to politics A-level students, sometimes to year groups, and sometimes as part of citizenship classes.  Where politics is taught at A-level, it tends to be taught well, with enthusiastic teachers and students.  The problem is with citizenship education.  Some schools do it well, but as I have previously noted, there is a problem with resources and providing incentives for schools to take it seriously.  I am delighted when I do get the opportunity to speak as part of citizenship education.  I just wish it was more widespread.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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2 Responses to Peers in Schools….

  1. Frank Wynerth Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    There is a lot of discussion of what are called Civics classes in the United States and where they are or have been in recent decades compared to a possible high water mark of achievement in the past. I can’t help but think that if the upper houses of state legislatures and the U.S. Senate were to tour and address our schools it would be beneficial to both policy in education and to the schools conducting the classes. But the cost in time devoted to such visits on both sides and the difference between our upper houses and Lords are all real reasons why such programs do not exist on a large scale. But I applaud you singling out this aspect of your outreach for attention by anyone who reads your blog.I have always valued connections between society and education that make the kinds of connections your program makes.

  2. Dean B says:

    Surely you aren’t going to leave us hanging with regards to the dinner party question?

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