on Friday 2 October, I visited Wykham Park Academy to meet Year Seven, who started Democracy sessions at the start of term. Learning about the importance of democracy, the vote and how people can be a catalyst for change, they wanted to find out about my life as their local Member of Parliament.
Miss Shires, English teacher at Wykham Park and democracy session leader, told me that pupils were tasked with writing and performing a speech about change on both technology in school and environmental issues, to improve their public speaking. With this in mind, I was keen to help further the year groups confidence speaking publicly, so encouraged them to ask me questions in front of their peers.
The year group asked a range of fantastic questions about life as an MP, including ones about my role as DEFRA minister, how and when I became an MP, who inspired me, and if I have met the Prime Minister. It was great to see students so politically aware and engaged with current issues, as I was asked specific policy questions about plastic pollution, coronavirus laws and what important issues I have worked on.
During my visit I took the opportunity to ask the year how they have found starting secondary school during coronavirus and their experiences of home online learning. I was pleased to learn that the Year Sevens are really enjoying their time at Wykham Park and are happy to be back in school to learn with their peers. Teachers informed me how coronavirus forced the staff at Wykham to adapt and overcome the challenges of online learning, with Google Classroom providing an excellent way to facilitate it.
I was very impressed with the protective screens in place at the school reception, made onsite by design and technology students. Following current coronavirus restrictions, year groups are operating in a bubble system and teachers move around the school from class to class. It was great to see that students have adapted well to the new rules in place, such as wearing masks while moving around school, allowing them to learn in a safe environment.
It is always a joy to visit local schools in the area and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I wish the Year Sevens the best of luck for the rest of their first year at Secondary School and hope to visit again soon.