Last week, two students from saltash.net community school in Cornwall were among a group of only 8 from across the UK to meet with Sir Richard Branson, and let him know exactly where they think technology in education needs to go.
The students are part of a new initiative in the ‘Generation Tech’ project, and make up the Digital Youth Council. The council meets regularly to discuss where they see technology in schools heading. Impressively, of those eight students, two come from the same school, saltash.net which is the only school to have two members selected.
The students will eventually meet with government ministers and offer their ‘Big Ask’, detailing what they need the government to do to ensure that as students they leave education with not just the knowledge, but also the key skills required to succeed in life.
After the success of previous meetings, at this most recent visit to London the students were joined by Richard himself to discuss their ideas and plans. The discussion was led by the students, and Amy Donovan and George Seymour from saltash.net made a huge contribution towards it.
“It was incredible – one of my proudest moments as an educator,” explained Scott Wieprecht. “Our students were front and centre of the discussion. Amy explained exactly what they were up to and the goal of the Youth Council. George then followed this up by explaining what they need to do to ensure their ideas were taken up in other schools, mentioning all the exciting projects on offer at saltash.net, and how last year he had even been flown to Barcelona to present to World Leaders as part of a Microsoft Forum!’
Sir Richard gave some ideas of his own, and told the students that their ideas were so good they should start their own business!
“The meeting with Mr Branson was quite time pressured, so not all students got to ask him questions. Deservedly, however, both our students had their questions selected as two of the three to be asked,” added Mr Wieprecht.
The opening question was from student, George Seymour, who wanted to know about his worst moment in business. “Unsurprisingly, the crash with Virgin Galactic was mentioned,” commented George. “What was interesting, was that Richard’s worst moment was on the day he launched Virgin Airlines, and his bank tried to close his account as they said he was mad. He only had the weekend to find a new bank or his whole empire was over. His key message was there is a fine line between success and failure.”
Amy followed straight after, with a slightly trickier ask. “I wanted to know whether he made the more eyebrow raising signings to his record label as a ‘tack tickle’ business move, or just to be rebellious,” she explained. “He didn’t quite commit to an answer but explained that in business you always have to take risks, and if you aren’t taking risks then you aren’t being challenging enough. I also told him I loved his Jacket – and he nearly gave it to me!”
The whole experience was incredible for the students, and only encouraged them more to continue their own school project, codename ‘Aspire’. “A lot of people commented on how lucky they have been to get this opportunity,” finished Mr Wieprecht. “I disagree – this isn’t luck; it is testament to the fact that if, like them, you put in hard work and have a goal, you will get the rewards. This is the fourth time in 12 months students from our school have been selected to meet national and international leaders or present on a Global Stage – that isn’t just luck.”