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Year 7 pupils from RHS and Thomas Gainsborough School at the RHS Junior MUN Conference

For the last two days of Enrichment Week, 150 junior pupils had their first experience of the School’s flagship Model United Nations project. The Royal Hospital School Year 7 were joined by Year 7 pupils from Thomas Gainsborough School, near Sudbury, for the School’s second annual Junior MUN Conference organised by Mr Christmas, Assistant Head (Academic), and Siana Douglas-Hamilton (Yr 12 Howe), one of the School’s two MUN Secretaries-General. Two former pupils who left last year – Jack Rennison (studying History at St Andrew’s University) and Michael Stokes (Digital Policy Advisor in the Cabinet Office as part of the Civil Service Fast Track Apprentice Scheme) came to help out with the conference sharing their considerable MUN knowledge with the new recruits.

MUN is a worldwide activity in which pupils take part in academic simulations of the United Nations. MUN educates participants in civics, world current affairs, effective communication, globalization and multi-lateral diplomacy. Participants research a country and, as delegates from that nation, investigate international issues, debate UN resolutions, deliberate, consult and then seek to develop solutions to world problems.

After learning about the UN, the Year 7 pupils were each assigned to one of 35 countries which they researched. They were then allocated a specific topic area which they further investigated. Each pupil worked in one of four UN committees: Political (nuclear weapon proliferation), Human Rights (use of torture in interrogation), Environment (prevention of climate change), as well as Economic and Social (issues surrounding HIV/AIDS) representing the views of their nominated country. In their research, the pupils were assisted by members of staff and senior pupils who guided and helped them with complex ideas. The second day saw pupils taught how to debate according to MUN rules and culminated in detailed and, at times, highly charged debates on the topic assigned to them.

The Conference was a huge success and greatly developed the pupils’ independent learning skills, as well as teaching them about the world outside Suffolk. Siana Douglas-Hamilton commented: “It has been hugely rewarding to see the enormous progress made by the younger pupils as they have learned about major political issues. The standard of debating has been extremely high.” Michael Stokes, the first RHS Secretary-General two years ago, stated “from very small beginnings with six Year 12 students in September 2011, MUN at RHS has become a major forum for independent learning in the School, as well as for teaching pupils about the outside world. It inspired me to apply for what I am doing now in my career and it is wonderful that RHS is now helping Thomas Gainsbrough School to develop its own MUN programme.”