Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I must say, I’m enormously grateful to the Minister for being able to join us this afternoon and to meet as many people here as possible. I have to apologise to you all because I tried very hard to get round everybody all beautifully labelled like pots of jam - but I failed, I’m afraid to say; I nearly did it, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed having the chance to talk to you and listen to your particular approach to some of the issues that I think you’ve all been talking about this morning.
I apologise for the fact that I couldn’t attend the seminar but I just hope that you found it valuable in many different ways, because you can imagine that half the battle we have through The Prince’s Trust and my other charities is actually getting the message through to people that we exist. Well possibly, some know now, about The Prince’s Trust after 36 years - we discovered that when we did a survey a few years ago. We then discovered that actually what most people thought it did was arrange rather good pop concerts! Apart from holding the odd pop concert it does raise a lot of money which is very useful!
I just hope today might have introduced you to some of the programmes and some of the initiatives that could be relevant to many of the challenges that you’re facing and I just wanted again to use this opportunity to express my huge admiration for so much of what so many of the Head Teachers do, in so many different parts of this country. I know you have so much on your plate, you do have enormous challenges, but somehow in your remarkable way you help to overcome them.
What I know you were talking about today was how my Trust - and indeed some of my other charities - can help you perhaps, because it seems to me that one of the key areas that is of such importance is the balance between the curricular and the extra-curricular activities and I’ve often felt that it’s the extra-curricular side which can be of such enormous importance in helping to build the character of the young person, which is sometimes forgotten nowadays. So what we’re really doing with the XL programme and the other programmes is helping to raise aspirations and build self-esteem and self-confidence: which is, really, all about helping to build your character so that you can be more resilient and able to face challenges, a bit more self-disciple which enables you to take on more, how to deal with interview situations, all these things, how to react to people, approach adults, all that sort of thing.
So, I hope you’ve learnt a little bit about how we may be of assistance here. I was very interested talking to some of you, who have had the XL programme in your school now for what, nine or ten years, and spoke very highly about the effect and impact it had had, but also, interestingly, I said ‘Do you keep in touch with the ex-students later on in life?’ and somebody was telling me that they did, and so I was saying, well have you ever thought of looking again at the alumni and asking them to come back and help with the current programme, because sometimes the people who’ve been through the process can be so valuable at helping to inspire and lead others who are going through it who are younger. That’s one other possibility we can add into all this.
The other thing, if I may say so, that I was so intrigued by was talking to some of you about one of my other charities of which I’m Patron, Teach First, which is something that came about through Business in the Community, of which I’ve been President of for 27 years now, that is something pinched from the United States, called Teach for America. I was very glad to hear so many people had heard about it, were using it very bright graduates who otherwise would have gone into industry or the city, financial services or elsewhere, but they divert to teaching, and then sometimes go back into industry, or remain in teaching.
What I wanted to say was that we can do an awful lot through my charities, different ones, to help to provide a more integrated approach to some of the challenges that the Minister was talking about: how to prepare people for life, for a very often challenging existence, how to be more resilient, how also can we help young people to be able to pursue and follow their vocational talents, which I think so many have, but somehow those are not brought out or allowed to be developed
So there are many areas I hope that you feel now that we might be able to help you with, in a more joined-up way. All I can say , Ladies and Gentlemen, is it’s been enormously valuable having this opportunity to see you all, I hope my Trust and other charities will be able to follow up with you and I hope also we have an opportunity to reach others, although of course we have an awful lot more people in this country to get round. Thank you all for giving up your precious time and being here, and thank you to all those young people who’ve come along and joined us today and given the benefit of their experiences, which are much more valuable than what I have to say. I’ve always felt that the young who go through The Prince’s Trust programmes are by far the best ones to explain what we do. So I owe it to all of them, and I look forward to seeing how they pursue their lives and careers in years to come, thanks to efforts of so many of you here. Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.