While a lot of talk after Britain’s General Election last week has been on the Conservatives special friendship with the DUP, or the Labour Party making big increases in the number of MPs they have in Parliament, there has also been some quiet appreciation of how diverse Parliament is finally becoming.
45 out of the 650 MPs openly define themselves as being LGBT
In 2015 there were 41 MPs from ethnic minorities and now there are 52
In 2015 there were 191 female MPs and now there are 208 women MPs who’ll sit in the House of Commons
There are no specific figures on MPs with disability
In 2015 only 43% of MPs were educated in the comprehensive system (i.e. not private and not selective) but that has increased in 2017 to 51% (this is compared to 88% of the UK population who received comprehensive education!)
Notable firsts are the first female Sikh MP, a blind MP and an MP with a richly diverse international heritage
Our school is perfectly poised on the outskirts of Greater London to take advantage of some superb exhibitions which are lined up for 2017. It is often the case that you can go to an art exhibition and whilst enjoying the beauty of art you can pick up numerous facts about History, Geography, Sociology and Religious Studies.
At the Bodleian Library in Oxford the Volcanoes exhibition sounds fantastic. It starts on 10th February and runs through to March.
Also from mid-February is the Royal Academy in London’s Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932. From the art gallery’s website it says: This far-ranging exhibition will – for the first time – survey the entire artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia, encompassing Kandinsky’s boldly innovative compositions, the dynamic abstractions of Malevich and the Suprematists, and the emergence of Socialist Realism, which would come to define Communist art as the only style accepted by the regime. We will also include photography, sculpture, filmmaking by pioneers such as Eisenstein, and evocative propaganda posters from what was a golden era for graphic design. The human experience will be brought to life with a full-scale recreation of an apartment designed for communal living, and with everyday objects ranging from ration coupons and textiles to brilliantly original Soviet porcelain. That is History on a plate for you!
Turning its attention to the other Cold War power is the British Museum’s American Dream. The exhibition looks at American art in prints but also opens our eyes to American history from JFK to Trump.
In 1967 homosexuality was decriminalised in England (i.e. it stopped being against the law to have gay relationships, at first over the age of 21, but over the years it’s been brought in line with heterosexual sexual relationships at 16). So this year at Tate Britain there is an exhibition called Queer British Art 1861-1967 which follows changing definitions and attitudes to sexuality and gender, stories of repression and of celebration. The exhibition starts in April during the school’s Easter holidays.
Now these are all special exhibitions where you often have to pay to visit. However for a cheaper day out you can visit London’s art galleries and museums mostly for no cost, and visit their permanent exhibitions.
The National Art Gallery which is on Leicester Square has lots of paintings about Bible stories in the Sainsbury’s wing Level 2.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington (close to the Natural History Museum) has a permanent exhibition about the Islamic Middle East in Room 42, and you can learn a lot about Christianity from the Medieval and Renaissance exhibitions. Not to be missed at the V&A for Religious Studies learning are the Raphael Cartoons in the cavernous Room 48a as well as the Cast Courts in Rooms 46a and 46b. A top tip for the V&A is to keep asking the staff the directions to specific rooms as it is a warren of art and exhibits.
Year 9 students will recognise this Raphael cartoon: