Four hundred years after the Hampton Court Conference was held to try to resolve conflict within the Church of England, the historic Palace has again been live with debate as Twickenham teenagers discussed the individual’s right to self-expression. Year 10 pupils from Whitton School visited the scene of the conference for a project run by Kingston University’s widening participation team and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces.
The programme, which supported the teaching of English, history and citizenship, was designed to develop the pupils’ speaking and listening skills. The 14 and 15 year olds were given tips by Kingston students on how to construct an argument before splitting up into two groups for the discussion.
The programme had taught the youngsters how to present themselves, University education liaison manager Jayne Clanfield said. “We wanted to encourage the pupils to become more confident and fluent in their use of language while also developing their analytical skills,” she explained. “They had a lot of fun working with our students and also took the opportunity to raise questions about university life.”
Whitton School pupil Philani Sithole said the event had boosted his confidence. “I didn’t think I would be able to speak up in front of a large group of people but this project has really helped me overcome my fears. It’s also highlighted areas I might need to work on in the future,” he added.
Hampton Court curator Brett Dolman delivered a lecture on the 1604 Conference, which led to a new English translation of the Bible, and the pupils got the opportunity to look around the Palace’s famous maze. Historic Royal Palaces education officer Ian Crawford said Hampton Court was keen to open its doors to local pupils and bring history to life. He also paid tribute to the University’s students involved in the project. “They helped the youngsters produce clear and persuasive arguments and the communication skills they learned will undoubtedly stand them in good stead for the future,” he said.