WKGS Representing the UK in the European Parliament
Bethan Wentel and Katie Nuttall, both students from West Kirby Grammar School, discuss their Euroscola experience below after winning a competition organised by the Liverpool Schools Parliament. Bethan and Katie competed against other students from schools across the North West of the UK, to participate in the Euroscola day along with other students and teachers from other EU Member States in Strasbourg in February 2018.
Watch the students form West Kirby Grammar School participate in Euroscola!
On Wednesday 21st February a group of 18 Year 12 students visited Strasbourg to have the fantastic chance of attending the Euroscola day held at the European Parliament along with over 500 students from across Europe. This opportunity was incredible and something we will never forget.
The trip meant a long day of travelling on the Wednesday and included leaving Lime Street early in the morning in order to catch three trains on our route. As you can imagine this was a tiring day for the whole team, however the train journey included a lot of preparation for the Euroscola day as well as Miss Conboy holding a general knowledge quiz to keep us all entertained. After we arrived at the hotel, the majority of our team were busy preparing for the Euroscola on Thursday. It’s an under exaggeration to say that the early morning on the Thursday was a shock to the system, but we were so excited that getting up at 6am French time didn’t seem to bother us too much!
The Euroscola event is held within the European Union’s own debating chamber, the Hemicycle, in Strasbourg, and we began the day by meeting people from the different countries around us at breakfast. We felt honoured to be representing the UK and it is safe to say that everyone on our team made a group of really close friends from a variety of nationalities. After getting to know these new friends, we were called into the chamber and the day started off with a few students introducing their country and the school they came from, however there was a twist. Each country had to give their presentation in a language that wasn’t their own; luckily for us we had Amelie, a native German speaker, so this part wasn’t too difficult, especially as every other country chose to speak in English. After this we were honoured with the opportunity of questioning Belgian MEP Tom Vandenkendelaere and Slovenian MEP Igor Šoltes on their opinions over certain issues that are facing the EU at the moment. This gave us a real insight into the decision making of the European Union and, of course, one of our students, Molly, was brave enough to ask the first question of the whole session!
After lunch, we separated into our committee rooms to discuss the topics that we had been preparing, these included everything from the Human Rights to the Environment to The Future of Europe. These sessions were vital as we could discuss different perspectives and ideas on how to tackle topical issues such as migration and education within the EU. Every idea within the committee was debated until we eventually came up with a list of resolutions to present to the rest of the chamber. We then had to elect a spokesperson, from our committees of about 80 students, to present our resolutions and be grilled on their practicalities. We were incredibly luckily in the fact that three of the six spokespeople on the panel were from WKGS! Katie Nuttall, Emily Astbury and Molly Boulton were questioned on their individual committee debates and did an incredible job of answering some extremely difficult questions. And all of this was live-streamed across Europe!
To finish the day, we had the final round of the Euroscola game, in which students were asked questions about the EU in different languages. The four highest scoring teams were called to the front, and two teams had WKGS members – Katie Davis and Claudia Quinn. Indeed, Claudia’s team went on to win the quiz and a medal of the European Union.
Unfortunately the day had come to an end and we had to part with our new friends. However, we didn’t have to part with the European Parliament for long as we were back again the next day early in the morning once again to take part in their EU role-play game - a virtual debating experience by which each person is given a political party that they have to support, despite their own political views. It really challenged all of our political beliefs but it was a very interesting experience that we all thoroughly enjoyed. In the afternoon we went sightseeing around Strasbourg, climbed the cathedral, cruised the canals and we managed to squeeze in some shopping before a traditional Alsace meal! This trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity that was thoroughly enjoyed and I would recommend it to anyone.
Bethan Wentel and Katie Nuttall