THE recent Annual Conference of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in Birmingham was hosted by the Executive Principal of the Skinners’ Kent Academy Trust Sian Carr who is also this year’s ASCL President.
She invited two of the Academy’s sixth formers Emily Raj and Sam Wheeler, to co-host the conference, which was also attended by Malala Yousafzai, the 19 year old student from Pakistan who was almost killed by the Taliban as she journeyed from school. The Taliban believe that girls have no right to an education.
Sian Carr said: “As President of ASCL this year I was delighted that Malala Yousafzai agreed to be the closing keynote speaker at our annual conference. As Executive Principal of Skinners’ Kent Academy Trust I was equally delighted that Sam and Emily were able to join me as co-hosts of the conference and for them to have the opportunity to interview Malala. As I said in my closing remarks [these are] three special young people on the cusp of the next step in their education, our future is bright and safe with them as the next generation of leaders. It was a moment of great pride for me as an educator.”
Sam and Emily’s role as student presenters at the conference was to introduce the speakers who included Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education, Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief inspector of Schools and Baroness Sue Campbell CBE, Chair of the Youth Sport Trust.
The conference culminated with a panel interview session with Malala who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her ‘struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education’. From the age of eleven Malala fought for girls’ right to education in Pakistan where she was born. In 2012, whilst travelling home from school, she suffered an attack on her life by Taliban gunmen and was flown to the UK for treatment.
Emily Raj said: “Nobody else was allowed to know we were interviewing Malala as it was top secret. As we are the same age, we were able to ask her questions we ourselves are asked on a daily basis such as ‘what are your plans for the future?’ Malala was amazing and very inspirational. She talked about her life in Pakistan and how her father is a big influence in her life. She also said that girls studying or going to university is not the norm in Pakistan.”
Sam Wheeler added: “Malala was really interested in our school life and the subjects we are currently studying. She asked us how our exam preparation is going and everything she said on stage had a deeper meaning and purpose which will one day change the world.”
Matthew Tompkins, Principal of The Skinners’ Kent Academy commented: “We have known about the exceptional qualities of our young people. To see Sam and Emily presenting with such confidence on such a significant stage filled me with pride. As we continue to develop and improve the opportunities at the academy, I am excited by the prospect of working alongside our next generation of leaders.”