Citizenship GCSE: What is Prime Minister's Questions?

Go behind the scenes to see how Prime Minister’s Questions really works.

With unprecedented access, cameras have been allowed to film in the House of Commons chamber to show what happens at the most high profile event in Parliament each week.

The Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, tells us about his nerves before the event.

We learn how an MP gets to ask a question. One way is by a ballot. Another way is by ‘bobbing’, standing up in the chamber to try and be called by the Speaker.

Backbench MPs reveal how their parties try to control proceedings, including an email sent out suggesting ‘helpful’ questions.

The value of Prime Minister's Questions divides opinion inside and outside the House of Commons; is it an effective way to scrutinise the Government?

This short film is from the BBC series, Exploring the House of Commons. This series goes behind the scenes of the House of Commons to explain some of the processes that drive British politics.

NB This series was filmed in 2013 - 2015 and some of the political figures shown no longer hold their positions.

Teacher Notes

GCSE or Scottish National 5:

This short film could be an effective way to stimulate to a discussion about Parliament, using the following questions:

What is the purpose of Prime Minister's Questions?

How effective in Prime Minister's Questions?

Is Prime Minister's Questions a good advert for British Parliament?

How could Prime Minister's Questions be improved?

A level or Scottish Higher:

This could be used as an introduction to the functions and role of Parliament, in particular Parliament's job of holding the Government to account.

Pupils could make a list of the strengths and weaknesses of the Prime Minister's Question Time as a form of holding the Government to account.

Pupils could discuss the image of Parliament and the potential consequences of this.

Pupils could debate the effectiveness of Prime Minister’s Questions and suggest improvements.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching classes about Citizenship. It will be suitable for GCSE or A Level, and Scottish National 5 or Higher.

More from Exploring the House of Commons

How does an MP change the law?
How do MPs vote in the House of Commons?
What is a Private Members' Bill?
Changing Britain's Constitution
Public perceptions of British politicians
Why do MPs rebel?
What is a Government Whip?