Cheadle Hulme High School (CHHS) welcomed Alan Mak MP, Member of Parliament for the Havant Constituency in South Hampshire and Government Minister, into the school to speak to Year 10 and Year 12 students as part of the Speakers for Schools Programme.  

Providing insight into his career and sharing an honest account of life as a Member of Parliament and Minister, he engaged with students and gave practical advice as they navigate their own career journeys.  

Alan, the UK’s first East Asian MP, was elected in 2015, re-elected in 2017, and re-elected again in 2019 with the constituency’s highest ever majority and vote share. He serves as Minister for Industry and Economic Security at the Department for Business and Trade and Minister for Investment Security at the Cabinet Office. He is responsible for supporting the UK’s key industries, driving economic growth, and protecting the UK from economic threats.  

He has previously served in the Ministerial teams at HM Treasury, the Government Whips’ Office, the Department for Work & Pensions and the Ministry of Defence. On his visit to CHHS, Alan spoke with students about his early life in Yorkshire and the challenges his family faced when they moved to the UK from China after escaping Communism and povertyHe spoke about the importance of education to his family, as he went on to be the first person in his family to go to university and gain a degree. He read Law at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge and worked in the City of London before his election. He qualified as a solicitor and has set up and advised several businesses. He was President and Trustee of Magic Breakfast, the UK’s biggest school breakfast club charity, and was selected to carry the London 2012 Olympic Torch. 

Alan Mak MP on stage at Cheadle Hulme High School, speaking with students about his career journey.

Alan complimented the education available to students across the Laurus family of schools, highlighting how the academic curriculum rivals the education on offer at many private schools across the country. 

The MP and Minister took to the stage, answering a range of questions from students, which included issues relating to NHS waiting lists and voting systems. Students also asked questions about electoral reform, plans to promote sustainable growth for businesses and immigration policy. 

After the event, Holly Eckhardt, Deputy Headteacher & Director of Post 16 Education at The Laurus Trust, said:  

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to engage with politics face-to face. Not only have the students had a chance to put their questions to a government minister, but they have also seen how it is possible to rise to the echelons of power from relatively humble beginnings, in Alan’s case, from Yorkshire.” 

Alan went on to say:  

Cheadle Hulme High School’s students were bright, engaging and keen to hear about ways they could contribute to public life and the future of the country.” 

“They posed excellent questions, reflecting the great education they’re receiving, backed by the Laurus Trust. I enjoyed my tour of the school too, and I’m grateful to Speakers for Schools for their inspirational work organising my visit and many others across the country.” 


Alan went on to speak about the famous Red Box – a ministerial despatch box and symbol of power synonymous to the UK – used only by Government Ministers and the Royal Family. He showed the students inside the box, and they were amused to find out it also served as a favourite napping spot for Larry the Downing Street cat! 

He also went on to give students advice about careers in politics, encouraging them to take the time for reflection before making decisions in life and to consider having options to fall back on. Alongside an academic education, students across Laurus schools are encouraged to develop the qualities, attitudes and habits required for future success.  

To inspire their students, schools within the Trust host guest speakers to empower young people to develop their confidence, embrace diverse thinking, and cultivate their individuality, equipping them to make well-informed career decisions to open the door to the future of their choice.