Mayor of London Addresses Local State School Students
Six hundred students from state schools across Merton and Wandsworth had the chance to experience undergraduate life for themselves on Wednesday 24 May – joining us on campus for our ‘Introduction to University Day’ in partnership with the University of Roehampton.
The event, which was attended by students from local comprehensives Rutlish, Ricards, Ursuline High, Wimbledon College and Southfields Academy, was held as part of Wimbledon BookFest’s education programme – a year-round scheme which aims to bring educational and cultural opportunities to all. Alongside a lecture programme – and an opportunity to find out about the practicalities of student life – the sixth form students also heard from two very special guests – Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and strategist, writer and co-host of the hit podcast The Rest Is Politics, Alastair Campbell.
Empowerment was the message of the day from both speakers – who focused on the vital role young people can play in affecting change for the better – and called on the student audience to engage with politics to ensure their voices were heard by those in power.
Sadiq Khan, speaking in advance of the publication of his new book, Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency, gave a powerful address on the need for action on climate change. He told the audience that engagement and involvement were crucial if young people wanted change. “Put pressure on people in power, encourage them to respond to your aspirations and concerns. Educate yourselves, do your research, get involved in your community – change is never given to you, you have to make it happen.”
In an inspiring welcome speech, Alastair Campbell, talked about persevilance – persistence and resilience – a concept explored in his new book, But What Can I Do? and exhorted the audience to; “Fight for things you care about and develop the belief that you can do whatever you set out to do.”
The student audience were invited to get involved – with both Campbell and Khan taking questions from the floor on a range of subjects including diversity in politics, the climate change agenda in London and the challenges of political life. Dan Angus, Head Student at Southfields Academy, braved the stage, joining Alastair Campbell to discuss the finer points of Labour’s economic policy – leaving the former Government Head of Communications suitably impressed. The students also had the chance to attend lectures from leading academics on a range of subjects including medieval history, human rights, nursing, biomedical science and filmmaking. Non-academic talks included student finance guidance, the UCAS application process and the experience of being a university student.
One of the visiting lecturers, historian Dr Janina Ramirez said; “I would have loved a day like this when I was at school. To have the chance to find out about life as an undergrad and to hear people speaking with passion about subjects they’ve dedicated their lives to is just fantastic.”
Fiona Razvi, Festival Director of Wimbledon BookFest said, “Many of these students are approaching the crucial stage of deciding whether University is for them or not. This event provided an amazing opportunity to experience a university environment first-hand and learn more about the value of higher education.”