Report by Ed James, Head of Universities and Careers Coordinator 


KPS Sixth Form welcomed eight guest speakers on Friday 22nd March as it hosted its first University and Careers Day.

This event offered students in Year 12, as well as our pupils in Year 10, opportunities to learn about a wide variety of professional fields as well as learning how our spakers’ experiences at university prepared them for the challenges of the world of work.

The day began with a lecture from Mr David Winstanley, Director of Marketing, Student Recruitment and Admissions at SOAS, part of the University of London. Reminding our prospective applicants of the necessity of ensuring that their personal statements are expressions of their personality, David’s talk was replete with encouraging advice as well as one or two hints on what not to include.

Our audience then parted ways with one group watching Ms Karen Wong, Specialist Registrar at Moorfields Eye Hospital, discuss her career in Opthalmology. The other learned about both the hard and soft skills necessary to a career in politics, delivered by Ms Polly Martin who, before teaching Geography at KPS Lower School, spent several years working in the offices of various MPs.

Before lunch, we were delighted to welcome Alice Reynolds, a lawyer with Jones Day whose speciality is property law and who has extensive experience in financial acquisitions. Managing to tame potentially abstruse areas of the law for her student audience, Alice also helped them understand the demands of studying the subject at undergraduate level.

After a break for lunch, we welcomed Sarah Kay, an entrepreneur whose company, Edit Events, specialises in the organisation of some of the most lavish corporate hospitality events to be staged in this country. A theme common to many of the day’s talks was the value of professional networking and Sarah made the point most explicitly, emphasising how many useful business relationships are first kindled over coffee. Our cohort contains many aspiring entrepreneurs who appreciated her account of the degree of investment, both emotional and financial, necessary to run a successful business.

Our student body then split once again, many of whom watching Miles Westwood, an aeronautical engineer with Rolls Royce, with others listening to a most illuminating speech from Benedict McAleenan who has made his career as a political lobbyist and consultant. Benedict helped the audience understand some of the ethical implications that one must face in this career, demonstrating as he did so the rhetorical and persuasive skills that have allowed him to successfully put cases before the government.

Our final speaker was Mr Jack Davidson, a cybersecurity expert working at the Ministry of Defence. Having demonstrated the ease with which passwords can be compromised and data stolen, Jack talked us through the range of careers available to all those who have success in this field. This was a particularly fitting end to the day, given that KPS’s Young Enterprise company, Halcyon, has recently won ‘Best Product’ at a local trade fair for its SafeKey, a military grade cybersecurity tool.

Our pupils emerged galvanised by what they heard and much more knowledgeable about the demands of the professional world. We are confident that this is only the first of many such events.