At Repton, we encourage our pupils to explore all possible options for their future careers, and assist them in taking the steps necessary to choose the path that is right for them.  

In January, Lower Sixth pupil Bella C spent a week shadowing Mrs Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire. As stated in her write-up below, Bella found the experience to be highly beneficial in regards to shaping her future pathway, helping her to narrow down the many options on offer to her. 

Continue reading to hear all about Bella’s experience. 

Arriving at Portcullis House, I carried with me lots of preconceived notions about what to expect from an inside look into politics. A lot of what is heavily publicised is either the scandalous behaviour of the few, which I do concede does seem to be part and parcel of the job, or government incompetence and extreme scrutiny. The everyday good that is done is largely ignored for the sake of flashier headlines. I am grateful that my experience in the Houses of Parliament, under the guidance of Mrs Heather Wheeler MP, allowed me to see an unfiltered reality of a politician and how MPs cater for the needs of their constituents. 

After meeting Mrs Wheeler’s staff in the office and being given a comprehensive tour, I learnt how to tackle policy casework, which deals with constituents who have written to their local MP about an issue that concerns them. I could see the issues that affect local people most and, although Mrs Wheeler is an incredibly busy woman, she still took the time to read each email/letter, cultivating the MP-constituent link. We also discussed the Parliamentary business for the week, and I drafted a one-page brief to present to Mrs Wheeler. This was a document I had never previously encountered, and so it was interesting to learn some new skills in an environment in which I was made comfortable by Mrs Wheeler and her staff. 

I was privileged enough to meet some well-respected politicians who gave me the time to glean as much knowledge as I could from them. Seeing and speaking to some of the most senior members of Parliament was fascinating as their experience in tackling foreign and domestic affairs is invaluable. 

I was able to sit into a select committee that discussed the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in terms of how much aid has been allowed to reach its intended recipients and the levels of healthcare available to pregnant women and children in particular. These harrowing accounts from inside a live zone of conflict were visibly touching to a panel of MPs who discussed solutions and asked further questions to ascertain the full extent of the issue. Once it had been established from workers on the ground that there was a serious crisis, the panel discussed whether a change in the government’s policy was necessary. I was then taken into the Thatcher Room in Portcullis House where I was afforded the opportunity to sit in on Lord Cameron’s first select committee as Secretary of State. This was the panel’s first chance to question him since his appointment, with the topics of the day including questioning the government line on the conflict in Israel/Gaza and the flared tensions in the Balkans. 

The experience was enlightening and, more importantly, necessary as it enabled me to figure out that this is a career that I would potentially be interested in. Each day was incredibly fast paced since, as one can imagine, politics changes every day, especially considering the fact that my work experience fell within the midst of the sub-postmasters scandal. But the bustling environment was something I could see myself in one day. I am grateful for all of the advice I received from Mrs Wheeler and her office and other members of staff around the House. I would also like to thank Mrs Wheeler for taking the time out of her busy schedule to accommodate me.” 

We are extremely proud of Bella for receiving the opportunity to complete such work experience, and look forward to seeing where her educational journey takes her next.