Pupils stage outdoor exhibition at Houses of Parliament to mark a special year

MP Mike Penning with visitors from Collett School, Hemel Hempstead, with Boris Johnson. PNL-150629-144104001

MP Mike Penning with visitors from Collett School, Hemel Hempstead, with Boris Johnson. PNL-150629-144104001

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An outdoor exhibition has been staged by pupils at a Hemel Hempstead school to mark its 50th anniversary.

The Collett School is commemorating the landmark with a special history project which includes the exhibition telling the history.

Collett School history project postcards at London exhibition.

Collett School history project postcards at London exhibition.

Pupils displayed their exhibition on Speaker’s Green at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, June 24.

Children and staff of the school met with Ministers and MPs throughout the day to tell their stories and relate their experiences of this very special school.

MP Mike Penning, who arranged for the exhibition to take place in Parliament, said: “The Collett School is a very special school and has a very special place in my heart. I visit as often as I can and I run my annual Christmas card competition with the children of the school.

“This is a great opportunity for ministers and MPs to hear first-hand the untold stories of the pupils of this great school.

“This is the first time ever that an exhibition of this nature has been held on Speaker’s Green and it was a wonderful experience for the children and a great opportunity for my parliamentary colleagues to learn more about special needs education and the experiences of those who have left the school and the difference it has made to their lives.”

Stephen Hoult-Allen, head teacher, said: “It was fantastic for our pupils, past and present, to share our story with so many MPs at the exhibition of our oral histories project at Parliament. Our pupils were fantastic ambassadors for the school and people with learning difficulties, taking pride in their achievements, hopes and aspirations for contributing to our mainstream world.”

Some of the pupils attending the event have spoken about their experiences of the day.

Billy, 14, said: “It was an amazing experience meeting MPs and Ministers at the Houses of Parliament.”

Rose, 15,, said: “It was absolutely awesome. I enjoyed telling people about our school.”

Connor, 9, added: “I liked seeing Big Ben. I talked to the MPs and told them about the school.”

Jordan, 10, said: “We got to see Big Ben, we told the MPs about our school and showed them around our exhibition.”

Visitors to the exhibition were handed specially-produced postcards on which they were invited to comment on one action they would take in response to the subject of special needs education raised by the History Project.

Some of those comments were:

Justin Tomlinson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People: “We will halve the disability employment gap, providing an opportunity to work for all those that wish to.”

Edward Timpson MP, Minister of State for Children and Families: “Keep promoting the importance of our reforms to SEND so that ALL children get to reach their potential.”

Rebecca Harris MP, MP for Castle Point, said: “We need special schools because everyone needs to feel safe and understood to develop their full potential at school.”

The group was accompanied by former pupils and project ambassadors:

Former pupil Olivia Carter, 20, project ambassador and now a dance student, has just won a place at the London School of Dance.

She wrote on her postcard: “If some kids are shy, I think they need more help with confidence in talking. For example, like me, I struggle to talk to people but I got help from my parents on how to do better.”

Adam Dobie, 46, also a former and project ambassador, wrote on his postcard: “I never knew how close I would be to Big Ben. What a great day to be at the House of Commons. I feel great being here with the group today.”