Creating relationships

 
 

“Politicians are very easy to communicate with and are understanding. They are just like us and not posh.”

Digital Surgeries address a key issue that defines our democratic system today: the breakdown in the relationship between young people and politicians.

The programme aims to transform the way that young people and politicians interact. Our goal is simple – we want every young person during their time at school to have a meaningful, informed interaction with their local, regional or national representatives. 

We support schools to run Digital Surgeries, connecting students and politicians using online platforms, such as Skype and Zoom. This gives students a rare chance to engage with their politicians, building understanding and relationships on both sides that leads to real and tangible changes in communities.

For politicians, Digital Surgeries provide an opportunity to represent their young constituents more effectively and 100% of those who have taken part want to do more.

This year, to celebrate 100 year of women getting the vote we are running a special version of Digital Surgeries called Talking Gender. Click here to find out more

 

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Digital Surgeries are designed to save time for teachers and politicians. We know how busy both can be, so we want to make engagement simple and easy.

The programme takes four teaching hours to deliver, three hours of workshops and one for the Digital Surgery. Our training and support enables students and politicians to get the most out of every interaction and ensures that teachers can deliver surgeries with their students independently and go on to make surgeries part of their everyday teaching.

The programme is currently completely free of charge to schools. 

Teacher Training

We train teachers on our one-day teacher training programme where they learn how to prepare and support students to engage digitally with their elected representatives. Teachers will be supported to design a scheme of work for students from our specialised resources and trained to be expert digital facilitators.  

Workshops

Teachers deliver three hours of preparatory workshops. These can be delivered to suit the school in either a drop-down day or integrated into the timetable. The programme can be easily integrated into everyday teaching in Citizenship or A Level Government and Politics, and aligns with requirements on Prevent, Fundamental British Values and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development (SMSC).

Digital Surgeries

Teachers deliver a Digital Surgery, connecting their students with a local, regional or national politician via Skype or a similar platform. We will provide in-person support for each school’s first Digital Surgery and will help to capture the interactions through photos and videos and promotion across social media and local/national press.

Digital Surgeries Network

93% of our trained teachers have continued to deliver Digital Surgeries through our Digital Surgeries Network.

Upcoming 2018 teacher training dates:

Edinburgh  |  31st October

Nottingham  |  14th November

Cardiff  |  20th November

Manchester  |  27th November (twilight)

BRISTOL | 28TH NOVEMBER

London  |  29th November (twilight)

Training via webinar may also be possible. Email schools@thepoliticsproject.org.uk for more information.

 
 
 
 
 
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Impact

 

Engagement 

The Digital Surgeries programme has been proven to equip students with knowledge, skills and confidence they need to engage in politics and in their local communities.

In our pilot, 22% of students had taken part in political activities prior to the programme. After the programme 70% wish to do so.  The programme also saw voting intention rise 21%. 

Building relationships

The programme was especially effective at building relationships. Politicians reported that the workshops supported the students to really understand their role, leading to deeper and more impactful conversations about share interests. For young people there was a significant increase in attitudes towards politicians and levels of trust. 

 

 

The impact of Digital 

In our results to date we have found that for many young people, especially those that were less confident, found digital engagements to be "less intimidating and less awkward" than formal, in-person school visits. The digital format helps to address the power imbalance that can exist between young people and politicians as students are able to take part in a setting they are comfortable with and in a group with their peers where they control the flow of the discussion.

Real change in the community 

Most excitingly, Digital Surgeries is leading to real changes in local communites. To date students have: 

  • Received support for their families after directly raising issues with politicians. 
  • Successfully lobbied politicians to support action on mental health. 
  • Made positive changes for behalf of their school through bringing issues about local sports facilities to the attention of local decision makers. 
 
 

90%

of young people felt that the programme increased their understanding of the UK political system;

92%

of young people felt that the programme helped to develop their oracy skills

93%

of young people felt that the programme helped to develop their critical thinking skills.

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Case Studies

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Teachers

“Digital Surgeries has been an amazing experience for my students. The process is thorough and develops students’ knowledge of how politicians have a say on a local, national and an international level. It gives them a hands on understanding of actively engaging with our elected representatives and helps them to come up with relevant and worthwhile questions. All my students have spoken of the value of the experience and how they believed that it had helped them to feel more involved in the political process.”

Emily Mitchell, Head of PSHE and Citizenship at Altrincham Girls School     


Marie DILLON, Deputy Head Teacher at Oasis Academy MediaCity UK

 
 

Stephanie Lonsdale, Head of Global Studies at Oasis Academy MediaCity UK


“This has been a really valuable experience for the students and also has helped to raise the profile of the school as a whole. It has been the starting point to what we hope will continue to be a program of activities for students giving them first hand engagement with politics and politicians. The program has also helped student leaders to understand their own role and what it means to be an elected representative.”

Stephanie Lonsdale, Head of Global Studies at Oasis Academy MediaCity UK

“It was great that the class had gone through a process prior to the surgery to understand my role and consider what questions they wanted to ask. It was not too formal and having a semi formal process aided the quality of the questions and the debate.”

Cllr Lisa Stone, Head of Children and Young people services at Salford Council 


Andrew Gwynne MP, Member of Parliament for Denton and reddish

Cllr Rishi Shori, Head of Burt Council 


“I felt the young people found it easier to ask questions and debate with me, the format worked well for that. It was also clear they did understand the ambit of MPs’ work; I got really good questions on national policy issues.”

Kate Green MP for stretford and urmstom