Speakers for Schools brings enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and authoritative speakers from a wide range of backgrounds into state secondary schools and colleges, free of charge. They intend to open new perspectives, illuminate learning and increase young people's motivation and aspirations
Talks so far have covered a rich variety of subjects, branching from core topics selected here, by working with the school/college to tailor the talk to the speaker's expertise and the students' interests. For specific questions about the programme and how planning a talk works, please be sure to see our Frequently Asked Questions page.
For examples of a few talks that have taken place so far, please see below.
George Alagiah at Eltham Hill Technology College for Girls
George Alagiah, BBC news presenter and journalist gave a talk to around 50 girls
about his life and career.
George spoke about his own experiences; his personal life and his professional journey.
He recounted the challenges and surprises he had faced to get to his current position and shared several personal points on overcoming self-doubt and how he believed that any student could become a CEO or an international broadcaster.
A student at the talk commented that, "throughout his talk he was very positive about the talents and abilities of young people of our generation. He told us that we can make a huge impact on this society and the world, if we believe in ourselves and put in as much hard work as possible."
Martha Lane Fox at Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School
The Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School had the opportunity to host Martha Lane Fox, online entrepreneur and government digital advisor, as a part of the Speakers for Schools launch week. The girls got to hear Martha's view on women in business and the
drive and motivation that is needed to succeed.
Martha was able to share her personal struggles and achievements as a businesswoman, including founding Lucky Voice, Lastminute.com and the Race Online 2012.
She gave a talk touching on both advice and practical business know-how, whilst also acknowledging that she thought she was very lucky to be in a position to take risks. "Some people don't have that choice; they just have to get a job. But entrepreneurs need people around them. You don't have to be the one starting the business. You can be working with them."
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Founder and Chairman of Microsoft, met students at Deptford Green School in London to talk about his 2012 Annual Letter launched in January. He responded to a selection of letters by the students and engaged in an interactive discussion about their "world-changing" ideas.
Keely Wilson, an English teacher at the school applied to Speakers for Schools, explained that her school had strong international links and a long standing partnership with a school in Africa so it was an ideal focus.
Bill Gates explains his support of the scheme: "It's vitally important to listen to young people about the urgent issues facing us all and I enjoyed hearing directly from them about how they would make the world a better place."
Ruby McGregor Smith, CEO of MITIE, spoke to students at the Ellen Wilkinson School
for Girls about her work as well as her background and family life.
By using her background as a starting point, Ruby was able to make her journey more relevant to the girls at Ellen Wilkinson. She also made time to have a round-table discussion around employability skills and answered the girls' questions about work experience.
Angela and Hafsa, two students from the school, wrote in the school's newsletter,
"She gave us a comprehensive talk about her life, her struggles and successes, and how she has achieved so much. It was informative and inspirational, as she spoke about overcoming difficulties and how to balance her career and her life. After her talk we had the opportunity to ask her questions about anything we wanted, there was plenty of surprise when she disclosed how much she earned - definitely something to aim for!"
Sir John Parker addressed 50 students at St Saviour's and St Olave's Girls School and Sixth Form in south London, speaking on the importance of maths and science and the variety of roles available in engineering.
He had a colourful and varied power point presentation which was very well suited to his audience, using the film Titanic as his starting point to discuss naval engineering. While he made his name in the ship building industry, Sir Parker successfully illustrated that engineering was not just about building big ships and buildings, using subjects such as bio-medical engineering and green technology to add variety.
From an engaging start, Sir Parker was able to translate to the girls the benefits of maths and science and the doors that those subjects opened in later life.
The connection he made with his audience was clear by the questions that the girls asked and by the sea of hands that remained at the end of the question and answer session.
Lord Martin Rees at East Barnet School
Professor Rees, Astronomer Royal, Master of Trinity College Cambridge and former s President of the Royal Society spoke to students from East Barnet High School on 'the future of the universe'.
East Barnet High extended their assembly hall and invited department heads from neighbouring schools to bring their maths and science students so they too could hear Professor Rees's take on what is known about the physical world, and how much more needs to be discovered.
Reminding students that there are still so many unknowns to be discovered, he urged them to consider science in their future ambitions.
Matthew Taylor, Director of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), spoke to 200 Sixth Form pupils at Acland Burghley on the first day of the Speakers for Schools launch week.
Speaking to a cross section of students in a large assembly, Matthew spoke on the 21st Century Enlightenment, focussing on challenging the way we think and promoting the importance of new and creative ideas.
While Matthew's subject matter was complex, he made his talk engaging and accessible by using easily understandable key points, such as the pursuit of happiness, and examples that were relevant to students. Matthew sums up the event succinctly: