Victoria Armitage, Assistant Head Teacher at Beckfoot Upper Heaton in Bradford shares her experience of hosting illustrious speakers via the charity Speakers for Schools, and why she continues to prioritise it for her students.
It is not every day you can access quality speakers for free and in particular high profile speakers, especially when you are based in the North of England. This is why I have been so delighted to work with the charity Speakers for Schools in order to bring influential people into our school to talk with our students. Speaker for Schools is an independent education charity that provides young people in UK secondary state schools and colleges with access to talks from influential figures, free of charge.
By sharing top-level experience, inspiration and insights, their purpose is to level the playing field of opportunities for stimulation and encouragement by those who shape the world of today.
Too often students struggle to contextualize their academic and personal development into life beyond school so having the opportunity for someone to do that and endorse what their teachers are saying is an opportunity too good to miss. Most importantly, they can support the work we are all already doing to raise our students’ aspirations by showing them that there is a land of opportunity out there, available to those who work hard, and dream big.
Despite scheduling challenges and demands, I have hosted four talks to date for students from Year 9 through to 6th form , which all have been fantastic, giving my students an appreciation of what hard work, determination, endless ambition and aspiration can bring to their lives, their family and in many cases community both local and global.
While I have learnt that in order to make things work I have to be well organised and flexible for the speaker, this legwork can really pay off. Speaker Ian Stuart (CEO, HSBC) agreed to spend the day with us, which allowed a smaller selection of students to spend time with them asking specific questions targeted at the theme of the talk. We have even been lucky enough to be invited to Canary Wharf HSBC headquarters for a day. Ian very kindly arranged for the students to get a once-in-a-lifetime experience ranging from a CV workshop with their recruitment team, to an insight into the world of banking. I nearly had a career change! These are incredibly valuable opportunities for our students.
So, take a look at how their programme works and make it happen. Take time out of the structured day-to-day learning, as it's worth it in opening minds and driving aspirations. I can’t wait to see who we will host next year!
Speakers for Schools was launched in 2011 by founder Robert Peston (ITV) and is an entirely free programme. All state secondary schools and colleges in the UK are eligible to apply to be a part of their network.
To find out more visit www.speakers4schools.org