Review: Children and Families Bill debate

screen-shot-2013-02-27-at-00-53-58.pngEva Percy, part of the Speeching research group, writes about her recent visit to the House of Commons.

On the evening of the 25th February I had the privilege to enter into Parliament. Within the Parliament buildings there was a sense of authority and importance, a sense of power. The infrastructure oozed history, as it dawned on me that within these buildings history was made. Individuals walked with determination and vigour. As I walked through Westminster Hall, on my way to the House of Commons, I felt awe and amazement wash through me. As I went to collect my ticket for access into the Special Gallery, I felt excitement and curiosity.

Upon entering the Special Gallery, there was an atmosphere of concentration within the audience, there was also a sense of tiredness, and it became apparent to me that the debate within the House of Commons had been going on for some time. As I took a seat at the front of the gallery, I took in my surroundings. I was perched on green leather seating, and in front of me there was a miraculously clean window, and through this window was the famous House of Commons. It was rectangular in shape, with digital timers on either side (my companion made me aware that each person within the House of Commons was allowed exactly eight minutes each to make their speech) there were also big video cameras roaming over the space. As my seat was green leather, so were the seats that the speakers sat upon. At the far end of the room, central to the space, there was a man in traditional attire, in which each speaker was addressing themselves too, the ‘deputy speaker’.

Within my time in the gallery, looking down upon the debate on the Children and Families Bill, I saw two speakers, addressing the need for more funding for children and young people with Special Educational Needs. Both men were well dressed in suits and ties, both holding paper to aid their speech. The first man appeared younger than the second, and his voice was hoarse. He was in the second row of seating, and his body was turned at an angle to address the ‘deputy speaker’. His argument was well backed up with evidence, and it was extremely interesting to listen too. This man didn’t use a lot of gestures, his approach was calm and clear.

The second man was older than the first man, and although at the back of the seating, he immediately caught my attention. His posture was strong and he held a presence within the room. Instead of angling his body to face the ‘deputy speaker’ he opened his body to the whole room, making his speech accessible to everybody. This man started his speech by complimenting the previous man’s speech, which indicated experience and authority. This man, unlike the second, used many hand gestures to redefine what he was saying, and this held my attention. It encouraged me to understand what was important to this individual, what he believed in.

I came out of the room feeling motivated and inspired. I had just witnessed part of the process in which change will happen. I had witnessed two men speaking out with the intention to help improve the lives for children, young people with Special Educational Needs and their families. They were both strong speeches, although different in delivery.

MPs passed the The Children and Families Bill on 25 February 2013.

Graduated as a dance student from Roehampton University in July 2012, Eva Percy is an emerging community dance artist and choreographer. Creator of ‘VIVACIOUS DANCE: Eva Percy, Community Dance Work and Choreography’, the key elements to her work are creative and inclusive practice, focusing on the importance of individuality. Eva is passionate about making the arts, especially dance, accessible for all ages and abilities whilst encouraging growth and development. As well as her involvement with ‘Speeching’, Eva is currently collaborating with the Preface Morn Dance Theatre project ‘Open Dance Labs’.


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