Farlington’s ‘Peers in schools’ visit from Baroness O’Cathain

February 10, 2017

Farlington School hosted a talk from Baroness O’Cathain, a member of the House of Lords, on Friday 20th January to encourage students to become more engaged with the political and parliamentary process.  

Baroness O’Cathain met with Year 11 Sociologists and all Year 10 students for an hour to talk about the work and role of the House of Lords. This was followed by a question and answer session on various aspects of the parliamentary process and life at Westminster generally.

Before the visit, the students were not fully aware of the level of importance of the House of Lords and its function. Baroness O’Cathain gave a thorough introduction to the history of the Houses of Parliament and the different roles undertaken there.

“The Baroness was very passionate about her role in Parliament. We were particularly interested in the representation of women in the House of Lords. The number of female parliamentarians in the House of Lords is ten times the amount it used to be 20 years ago,” said Eleana Beresford Pratt.

When asked about the rewards of her role, the Baroness mentioned a past issue in which she, and others, fought for a Pensions Act. It was one of her proudest moments in the House of Lords as it was passed. It gave equal pension rights to partners after divorce, which benefited a partner who, perhaps, did not work.

“She also explained how new legislation was thoroughly checked. She gave the example of the Prevention against Terrorism Act in 2005, which was in discussion for over 34 hours!” said Hemma Ahluwalia.

Natasha Pennington commented: “Baroness O’Cathain was very open to answering our questions and spoke very honestly about her views. We learnt a great deal about the real challenges of her role and controversial issues in Parliament.”

Helen Ravenscroft – Head of Faculty of Social Sciences at Farlington said, “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to interact with someone who knows the parliamentary system inside out, as it can sometimes seem far removed from their daily lives.”