GREATER Manchester mayor Andy Burnham treated students and staff at Oldham Sixth Form College to an exclusive visit on Friday - albeit virtually.

Mr Burnham said had been touched to hear of the college’s continued efforts to raise funds for A Bed Every Night, a charity founded by they mayor, and praised students for their resilience throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

The Q&A was chaired by OSFC A Level politics student Emma Smith, who helped steer the conversation and introduced other students who asked questions relating to a wide range of topics.

Some of the questions put to the mayor explored the impact on exams and calculated grades for students in the North, how Covid-19 continues to affect homelessness, the structure of the Labour Party and his thoughts on devolution.

Alongside the tricky topics, students wanted to get to know the public figure more personally, asking how he first became interested in politics, the top qualities he feels every politician should have, and there was even a question from a fellow Everton fan, keen to get his thoughts on who he thought was better, Kevin Sheedy or James Rodriguez.

Keen to encourage the young adults listening, Mr Burnham told them: “I wouldn’t change anything, to be honest, in terms of where I’ve come from or what I’ve done.

"Keep that confidence inside, keep your ambitions high, don’t ever talk yourselves down, there’s no need to. Don’t ever doubt yourself, believe in yourselves."

Suzannah Reeves, vice principal at OSFC, described the event as excellent, explaining “It was lovely to see so many OSFC students attend the event, share their questions and engage in what was a really interesting conversation. We aim to encourage our students to leave OSFC being able to demonstrate the characteristics of a model citizen. I feel it’s events like these and the conversations they provoke that help develop this”.

Essential Life Skills Coordinator Rosie McLaren, who facilitated the event, concluded the Q&A by thanking Mr Burnham for his time, speaking so openly to the group and continuing to champion students across the North West who have seen a disproportionate level of disruption to their studies, family income and daily lives throughout periods of lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic in general, compared to other parts of the country.