Who are we?
We are two student representatives from King’s College London studying Environment, Politics and Globalisation for our Master’s degree. As part of our programme, we joined Urbanwise. London as part of our environmental internship, offering us external exposure on learning about the environment. Urbanwise London is a charity organisation that offers learning projects and activities for primary and secondary schools about their local urban environment aspects and also delivers environmental education sessions, both indoors and outdoors. One of their most noteworthy projects is the Children’s Parliament, designed for Year 6 children which has been held for over 10 years.
What is the Children’s Parliament?
It is an event hosted by Urbanwise that takes place in a prestigious venue, this year the event took place in the Kensington Town Hall Council Chamber, where 10 schools participated and presented their work on an issue regarding the communities urban environment. The Children researched their designated topic with the help of Urbanwise who facilitated pupils to meet with community groups, environmental organisations and council officers and other local residents to aid their study. This year schools were given a variety of topics to discuss:
Ashburnham Community Primary School – Waste No More
Christ Church C of E Primary School – There is No Planet B
Fulham Primary School – Our Fulham Jetty
Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School – River Revivers
Kenmont Primary School – The Grand Union Canal: Kenmont Clean Up Campaign
Oratory RC Primary School – Our Planet, Our Future Park
Walk Primary School – Food Miles: Not Just a Walk in the Park!
Queens Manor Primary School – Safe on Our Streets
St. Mary Abbots C of E Primary School – Clean Air Campaign
Wendell Park Primary School – Super Sewer, Privilege or Problem?
Each presentation was awarded and judged on 4 things; presentation skills, research, environmental action as well as a children’s vote on the best presentation. The judges included the Lead Member for Healthy City Living Councillor David Lindsey, LBHF Children’s Services Principal Advisor Keith Tysoe, RBKC Sustainability Projects Manager from the Climate Change Team Anca Giurgiu, and the Science Educator from the Natural History Museum David Cooper. The awards included a book and a framed certificate given by the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, Councillor Rossi. Following the presentations there was a Q&A session between the schools as well.
Why is it a valuable experience for the children?
This project is particularly valuable for the children for different reasons. Children get to learn about politics and democracy and participate in it actively through this project, as
they have a chance to practice their public speaking and present an argument which they build a case on. It is also a great way to learn from other schools and what initiatives they are taking to help their local environment. With presentations focused on various topics, it provides an informative and educational approach allowing children to become aware of local environmental issues that surround them and their peers. It is also a chance for kids to generate creative responses and resolutions to contemporary issues our environment faces today.
What do we think of this event?
We believe that the children’s Parliament is an integral part for the children’s learning about the environment.
As children will be the future leaders for our environment, it is essential that they begin to understand the complex and interconnected problems that humans pose on their local and urban environment and what we can do to limit the amount of damages we make. The children’s parliament provides an insight of their own experiences with the environment in their local area, enabling them to value nature and prioritize its protection and sustainability for the future of the natural world.