16 - 18 Conference

Sixth form pupils ask MPs a question at the 16 - 18 Conference

On 23 November, 1500 sixth form students from schools and colleges around the UK came to Westminster for a day of talks, workshops and a chance to put their questions to MPs and Peers.

The event, held in Methodist Central Hall on Parliament Square, was the first one-day conference organised by Parliament's Education Service for 16 to 18-year-olds. It catered for pupils studying related subjects like politics and general studies, as well as those who just wanted to learn more about the work of Parliament and how it affects them.

Meeting MPs and Peers 

Baroness Hayman, the Lord Speaker, and John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, welcomed the students to the conference. There were also chances to meet a number of other MPs and Peers over the course of the day.

'Political speed dating' provided one opportunity and allowed small groups to spend a few minutes talking to each of a range of MPs and Peers about their work in Parliament.

Students also actively participated in sessions with this year's keynote speakers and panellists, by asking thought-provoking questions on issues that concerned them, from tuition fees, to ways of tackling knife crime, to the bail-out of the banks. The speakers included David Lammy MP, Simon Hart MP, Michael Dugher MP and Lord Rennard.

Interactive workshops 

A range of curriculum-focused workshops challenged students to look at different aspects of politics in a fun way, involving lots of interaction and audience participation.

Workshops included:

  • Whose Vote is it Anyway? - a look at how MPs balance the competing demands of their political party in Westminster and the wishes of their constituents
  • Forming a Coalition - an opportunity for students to find out for themselves how coalition agreements are made
  • Show me the Money - a chance to choose which policies to prioritise with a restricted budget
  • Reform of the House - a look at which voting system should be used to elect MPs in Westminster, and whether the House of Lords should be an elected or appointed body
  • Reporting Politics - a closer look at politics and the media. Students made videos during their half-day workshop which are available now to watch on YouTube. They were asked to look into the world of political reporting by watching a press conference and then creating a news report. They needed to cast the anchor, reporter and the expert from the available toy characters, and select locations to film in, before coming up with their final video.

The day also featured a panel discussion on media coverage of politics. Representatives from both the House of Commons and the press debated issues of dumbing down, the effects of blogs and social networking on media reporting, and press impartiality.

Booking and enquiries

Education Service
Houses of Parliament
London SW1A 2TT
020 7219 4496

Updates for teachers

Educational games

  • Could you cut it as an MP? Designed for 11-16 year-olds, this game drops you into the shoes of a backbencher.

  • Dangling from the world’s most famous clock you’ll need to clean its face before time expires.