Connecting Further Education students with their UK Parliament

Picture of Trafford College students sitting outside


Picture of Trafford College students and the Houses of Parliament

The UK Parliament's Outreach Officer for the North West of England, Gary Hart, has worked in close partnership with the Trafford College Group to deliver a wide range of interactive online sessions for their students, focusing on different aspects of UK Parliament and its work on behalf of citizens.

The sessions have been attended by thousands of students since they were first held in September 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the excellent relationship that Gary has built with the Trafford College Group and the innovative online activities he has delivered in partnership with them, large numbers of young people in the North West have found out about Parliament for the first time, why it matters to them and how they can get involved.

Partner organisation

Trafford College Group logo

The Trafford College Group (Stockport College, Trafford College, The Cheadle College, Marple Sixth Form College) provides academic education (A Levels and GCSEs), adult education, apprenticeships, community learning, higher education, and vocational/technical education.

The college supports its students in developing the skills, attitudes and behaviours required for success in life and work. The Group is spread over five campus sites, including a Retail Skills Shop in the Trafford Centre.

Online sessions: How Parliament works

Picture of college students working on laptops

An intial set of online sessions were made available to the students via Microsoft Teams in September 2020. These looked at basic rights and responsibilities and showed how Parliament works, as part of the college's broader teaching about British values.

Two one-hour sessions were delivered each day from Monday to Friday over a two-week period. All 20 of the sessions were well attended, with over 4,000 students taking part.

  • Before each session, a member of the college staff laid down some ground rules to the students about behaviour and introduced the presenter - our Outreach Officer, Gary.
  • During the sessions, the students discovered how Parliament works, who their MP is and how to contact them. They shared issues that were important to them including those affecting their local community, such as better transport links and homelessness. They also discussed national issues such as environmentalism, LGBT+ rights and how to ensure more young people engage with politics.
  • Each session was run like an informal conversation. Gary gave the students an understanding of how Parliament works, and the students were able to ask questions - often via the chat function in Teams.
  • Other colleagues in our Outreach team working online were able to be part of the sessions and flag up the questions for Gary as they were submitted by the students.

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Online sessions: How laws are made


Following the success of the initial sessions, Gary was invited to deliver some more in early 2021.

As before, these sessions were hosted via Microsoft Teams and this time focused on how voting works, why it is important and how laws are made.

Once again, the sessions proved incredibly popular, with over 4,000 students of the Trafford College Group taking part over the course of several weeks.

  • During these sessions, the students learned about how voting works and how new laws are made at Parliament. They were also challenged to think about which new laws they might like to see created and vote amongst themselves to see how popular these ideas were.
  • The students also looked at current Select Committee inquiries that might affect young people, and how to provide evidence to them.

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Gary was delighted to get a very positive endorsement for these sessions from the college!

What happened next


Additional online sessions

Following the success of the initial sessions in 2020 and early 2021, Gary was invited to run further sets of online sessions for students in October 2021 and February 2022.

Supporting college staff

Gary has been in regular contact with the college staff to provide any additional information they need about Parliament, to help them answer follow-up questions from students.

Equalities Council

The Trafford College Group has its students active and involved in its campaign groups. One of the key groups is the Equalities Council. Thanks to the valuable work done by Gary to raise awareness of students' rights, responsibilities and democratic voice, membership of the Equalities Council increased. Another great demonstration of the partnership delivering real results.

Students getting involved

Some of the students who attended the online sessions since 2020 have gone on to engage with Parliament in various ways - including making contact with their local MPs. We know from their feedback that they wouldn't have done so if they hadn't found out more about this through the sessions.

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Picture of college students sitting outside

Becoming a community partner

Building on the success of the online engagement sessions for students, the UK Parliament Outreach team was invited to become a Community Partner of The Trafford College Group.

We were delighted to accept, and have joined a long list of other Community Partners working alongside the college to achieve shared goals.

The Community Partnership enhances the college offer and ensures that British values are at the heart of the college's operation and ethos. This is achieved by having bespoke partnerships, where students and communities can work together to respond to local needs.

The Community Partnership has been an integral part of the College’s response to COVID-19 and continues to enable much-needed support for its students and their families.

Picture of Trafford College Stretford Campus building

A lasting relationship

Picture of Michelle McLaughlin
"It has been great working with Gary from the Parliamentary Outreach team to deliver some fantastic online sessions for our students over the last three years - including those difficult periods when they weren't able to attend the college in person because of COVID-19. We are continuing to build on the great work that has already been delivered. It is making a real difference to our students."
Michelle McLaughlin MBE (Student Experience Manager, The Trafford College Group)
Picture of James Scott
"Working in partnership with Parliamentary Outreach means that we are able to ensure our students develop a clear understanding of how a Parliamentary democracy works for them. We are looking forward to further partnership work this academic year with Gary and the team."
James Scott (Principal and CEO, Trafford College Group)

About us

Picture of people taking part in engagement activities

The Participation Team

The Participation Team at UK Parliament works on behalf of both Houses to deliver award-winning visitor services, outreach activities, educational programmes, learning resources, and opportunities for the public to engage with parliamentary business.

We promote Parliament’s unique role in our democracy, help to make Parliament relevant and accessible to all UK citizens, and show how people can get involved with Parliament’s work in different ways.

Picture of two community outreach sessions run by UK Parliament

How we can help you

  • We visit schools and colleges in person and online, to run free sessions for your students about UK Parliament and its work.
  • We offer EMPOWER! workshops, for adults with learning disabilities. These highly accessible sessions typically last 45 minutes and are adjusted around the needs of your group. They’re designed for a minimum of 10 people, including carers.
  • We also run SEND workshops, which are sensory based sessions aimed at pre-curriculum age students between 7-19 years old

Please get in touch to find out how the Participation Team can work with your organisation to deliver tailored outreach activities.

Further information and links

© UK Parliament 2022

Photo credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor | Accessibility statement