The History of Parliament has been running schools competitions for several years, and 2013 was an excellent year for both our 11-14 year olds’ and A level competitions. A great big thank you to everyone who entered this year. The judges – who included ourselves, our trustees, and members of Parliament’s Education Service – had a very enjoyable time reading your entries, if a rather difficult task in choosing a winner! We had a high number of extremely good quality entries this year, especially in the 11-14 year olds’ competition, so it took us rather longer than expected to judge. For those of you who have been waiting to hear, we’re very sorry for the delay, but we did want to make sure that we made the right choice.
Our competition for Key Stage Three (11-14 year olds) asked entrants to write a speech as if they were a member of the 1536 ‘Reformation Parliament’, responding to the many religious changes passed by Henry VIII. The quality of entries was extremely high, and in the end we could not choose between two excellent entries. Ami Ganatra, of Leicester Grammar School, wrote a speech strongly in favour of the religious changes, whereas Jessica Welchman of Fairlands Middle School, Somerset, argued that Henry VIII’s changes were wrong and that Parliament should have a greater say in the future of the church. Both entries showed an impressive amount of knowledge and understanding of these events. We also highly commended James McKell, of Mount St Mary’s College Derbyshire, for his fine entry.
Our A level competition asked for an essay on an aspect of British and Irish parliamentary history. This year’s winner was James Heale of Kingston Grammar School, who entered with ‘To what extent have backbench groups influenced the personalities and policies of the Conservative Party, 1945-75?’. James surveyed a number of backbench groups, including the 1922 Committee, the centre-left ‘One Nation’ group and the more right-wing ‘Monday Club’, before concluding that these groups had little influence on Conservative Party policy. Instead, the groups were largely only effective if they had the support of the party leadership. The judges were impressed with James’ wide knowledge, detail and strong argument.
Our winners are being taken on a special treat at the end of this month – a tour of the Houses of Parliament before being presented with their prizes by the Speaker of the Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP. I’ll report on those events soon. Thanks again to all who took part. For those who didn’t quite make it in 2013, our 2014 competitions will be announced shortly! Watch this space towards the end of the month for full details.