Three groups of sixth-form high school students from Langley Academy, Bracknell and Wokingham Academy and Featherstone High School Ealing celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Race Relations Act at the Houses of Parliament on 3 December 2015.  

The visit was the result of a joint project between Cumberland Lodge’s Programme Team and the Parliamentary Outreach Service.

The Race Relations Act of 1965 was the first piece of legislation aimed at preventing racial discrimination in the UK. While the law has been improved and strengthened over the years, it has not managed to eliminate racial discrimination.

School seminars

Prior to visiting the Houses of Parliament, Owen Gower and Elizabeth Morrow held one-hour seminars at each of the three schools, where students were encouraged to think about the different forms racism can take, and the role of the law in creating norms and behaviour change.

Houses of Parliament visit

The visit to Parliament began with the students assembling at Cumberland Lodge before boarding a coach to Westminster.

The group was then treated to a tour of both Houses before assembling to hear a talk from Fiona McTaggart, the Labour MP for Slough.

Ms McTaggart’s presentation struck a chord with her youthful audience when she suggested that the voting age should be lowered to 16.

The students were then split into two groups, to participate in workshops led by Owen and Elizabeth. The groups were presented with a series of case studies designed to elicit discussion about the policing of black and ethnic minorities and the role that the media plays in shaping racial prejudices.  

Following this discussion, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Conservative MP for Splethorne, told the group about his road to politics and the challenges and opportunities that come with being a black MP.

The day concluded with a lecture from Iyiola Solanke, a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Law School. Ms Solanke discussed the historical evolution of the Race Relations Act, reflected on the progress that has been made since its inception, and isolated the ongoing challenges that racism poses.