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Colleges Week 2024: influencing, engaging, celebrating 

With a general election looming, 2024 is set to be a defining year for the country and for the further education sector. As a result, we have decided to move Colleges Week from autumn to spring: it will now be taking place from Monday 26 February to Friday 1 March.

Whoever the next government is, we want to make sure they are focussed on ensuring colleges play an even bigger role in an inclusive, tolerant, welcoming, strong society and a growing and productive economy.

That’s why the focus on this Colleges Week will be political influencing in both the short and long term. We want to shape the conversations around the spring budget due on 6 March, the mayoral elections in May and the general election expected in autumn.

We want to focus on actions which see colleges actively engaging with key stakeholders: student-led hustings for candidates in general and mayoral elections, voter registration drives, engaging politicians, pressing the case for investment and so on.

Colleges Week will continue to be a week in which you can shout about the incredible work your college does day in, day out, celebrating your successes. Our Beacon Awards ceremony on Tuesday 27 February will recognise excellence across the sector and congratulate the winners of the Student of the Year awards announced in November.

We have five specific asks of you for this week, each focused on a different stakeholder within your college community. If you have the time and capacity, then we have some suggestions of other action you could take.

If you have any questions please email

1. Engage with your local MPs and politicians

Whether it’s your local current MP(s), the candidates who have been selected to run in the next general election, or the candidates in local mayoral elections (if one is taking place in your area) there are a number of ways you can engage with them during Colleges Week.

We want every college to:

  • invite local candidates to take part in a hustings event you are holding that week or soon after. You can read our guide on holding a hustings here. If you're not able to organise one, you can attend our webinar we’re holding that week which will share tips on how to do that – we’ll share more information on that soon.

You could also:

  • encourage your local MP(s) to take part in a debate on Colleges Week in parliament on Thursday 29 February. This is a great chance for your MP to highlight all the great work you do and ask Government to take action on the challenges you face. We've drafted this template briefing and email for you to send to them.
  • invite them into your college to speak with students and staff to highlight the role your college plays in the community or raise any issues you’re facing.

Both our Road to General Election and Road to Mayoral Election guides have lots of information and resources you can use to support your political influencing work. You can read those here.

      2. Spark your students’ interest

      Student voice is at the heart of every college, and it can be in elections too.

      We want every college to:

      • encourage students to register to vote. Although students need to be 18 to vote in elections in England, they can register when they turn 16. We’re working with The Politics Project and others on a student voter registration drive taking place the week after Colleges Week – we’d strongly encourage you to take part. You can sign up to receive information on that here.

      You could also:

      • support them to hold a student-led hustings event with local candidates in either the general or mayoral elections
      • hold political and democratic education sessions for your students. Democracy Classroom has lots of resources you can use.

      3. Secure media coverage

      Local media coverage reaches audiences you wouldn’t through your own college social media and communities. It is worth reaching out to journalists to secure coverage throughout the year, but especially during Colleges Week when there will be a collective focus on raising awareness across the sector. Guidance on how to secure media coverage is here.

      We want every college to:

      • pitch a comment or an interview with the principal or other senior leaders, based on your asks for incoming government. AoC’s vision for the next government is outlined in the Opportunity England report. You can use this template as a basis for this pitch.

      You could also:

      • think about what’s been covered in the national press recently and see if you provide case studies, unique insight or position the college as part of the solution
      • invite the local media along to an MP visit, and see if the politicians would be happy to provide an interview.

      If you need support in finding media contacts in your area, please contact Kate Parker. Some newspapers allow you to self-publish press releases: the full list is here.

      4. Make a splash on social media

      The audience you can reach on social media is vast: as well as students, parents and employers, you can also catch the eye of politicians and policy makers. Colleges Week is a great opportunity to draw attention to your college and the FE sector. In all posts, remember to use the hashtag #LoveOurColleges.

      We want every college to:

      • share on Wednesday 28 February at 12pm the AoC graphics on the short and long term asks for the government, and reshare and engage with other colleges’ posts, emphasising it’s one week until the spring budget.

      You can find the template posts and social media graphics for this day on our resources page.

      You could also:

      • create your own graphics specific to your college and local community and share those on social media tagging your local politicians where appropriate
      • post your stories of success and highlight the incredible campaigning happening at your college throughout the week.

        5. Reach out to your local organisations

        Showcasing the strong relationships colleges have with local employers and organisations can help amplify the wider messages you are sharing during Colleges Week.

        We want every college to:

        • invite local employers and organisations into the college to attend roundtables or hustings you are hosting with local MPs and candidates.

        You could also:

        • showcase case studies on successful projects with local employers in blogs, articles or social media posts and asking them to share on their social media channels too using #LoveOurColleges
        • ask if they would co-sign letters to ministers on wants from the next government.

        Click on the tiles below for more information and resources.