Guest column: Summer school is about opening doors for our talented students

John Mann MP
John Mann MP

This week my annual summer school has been taking place.

Year 11 students from six schools, including Outwood Academy Portland and Outwood Academy Valley, are taking part.

The summer school has been running for more than a decade and hundreds of local students have now taken part.

My aim in setting up the summer school – which is the only MP’s summer school of its kind - was to expand the horizons and opportunities for local pupils.

There are doors open to certain students in London with networks behind them that are not always there for young people from our area.

They are often simply too far away or otherwise inaccessible.

This week is part of the role I play in opening those doors.

Past participants have gone on to win placements at top companies as a result of making the most of the opportunity.

This year’s students visited West Burton last Friday for a day held by EDF.

The students were given a great insight into the work that EDF does at West Burton B – including a tour - and around the world.

I know that some of them are already looking into related careers, training and further education as a result.

This week in London the students took part in their very own Parliamentary ‘select committee’ in which they cross-examined top experts in the field of animal welfare and endangered species.

The students gave the experts a grilling which would put many MPs to shame and got a good debate as a result.

They also questioned the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow about his role and got the inside track into Parliament.

The hard work continued with sessions at a top sportswear company, a law firm in Canary Wharf and the Bank of England.

This year the students also saw a Shakespeare play at the Globe and visited the BBC’s headquarters, where advice on careers in the media was provided by Radio 1’s Greg James and other famous personalities.

There was of course the opportunity for a few ‘selfies’ with Greg James while they were at the BBC.

But the theme remained about getting our local pupils into the careers that they want, wherever they are.

Thank you to both EDF and Coventry Building Society for sponsoring the summer school and to the pupils and teachers for their participation and hard work.

Whilst this is not the only way that I try to open doors for young people in our area I have found it to be a very worthwhile one.

Some of the students this week will have found something new that interests them, or met someone who has shown them how to achieve their ambitions.

Good luck to all of them in the coming years.

Planning for next year’s summer school has already begun.