Yvette Cooper goes back to school

The Labour Shadow Secretary visits Airdale Academy in Castleford

Share

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has revealed to students that her first job was on a farm picking strawberries and driving a tractor, while visiting a Yorkshire academy for the Speakers for Schools charity – and giving her full support to i’s Back to School week campaign.

The Labour MP, appearing at Airdale Academy in Castleford, backed initiatives to give pupils advice on careers, saying: “I did not have a clue what I wanted to do when I was at my comprehensive. I was always interested in politics but did not think I would end up as an MP.”

Ms Cooper was one of many politicians visiting classrooms for Speakers for Schools today, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also supporting the scheme run by BBC journalist Robert Peston.

It was the first time she had taken part in the Speakers for Schools campaign, which acts as a go-between between the state sector and high-profile figures such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

She added: “I hope it gives young people the message that there are all kinds of things they can do. Everyone has great career opportunities in life and it is all about giving them bid ideas so they can have fantastic futures.”

Speaking about Back to School week’s own efforts to inspire, Ms Cooper said: “I think the campaign being supported by the i is brilliant. Never underestimate how much it helps to have a bit of advice.”

Future First, backed by the Independent and i, aims to encourage former pupils to return to their old schools and become role models for those choosing their careers.

The aim is to mimic the “old boys’ network” from which children in private sector education have long benefited.

It was when the local sitting MP announced his retirement that Ms Cooper decided to take a shot at politics – but she said it was a “real surprise” to be selected as the Labour candidate in 1997.

Now she is determined to inspire others to follow their dreams and not be daunted by fears of failure.

“You get to do a fantastic range of things as an MP but I would never have got the opportunity unless I had had a go,” she told her audience of 12 to 18-year-olds.

There has been criticism of the number of secondary pupils being hot-housed for university when many might be better choosing more vocational courses.

But Ms Cooper said it was good that young people were being given options of university careers in areas where they had been denied in the past.

Head teacher Michaela Blackledge added: “Some students - not all of them - do not have role models in their own families so the idea of having someone coming back to help them in their choices is really important.”

Report by Mark Branagan

A blog on the visit by Megan Bolderson, a 14-year-old student at Airdale Academy

Today our local MP (and also Shadow Home Secretary!), Yvette Cooper, came to visit my school in Castleford to speak about her career in politics and pass on her tips for career success. The visit was arranged by Speakers for Schools, which is a charity that sets up state schools with inspirational leaders like Yvette.

It was great for us to have the chance to hear Yvette talk about her life and what it is like to work in the Houses of Parliament. She told us about how important it is for us to really research all our options before we choose the job or university subject for us, and to seek advice from as many people as we can.

During the visit we also had the chance to ask Yvette questions about anything we liked, which was an amazing opportunity to get the advice from one of Britain’s most powerful politicians. Yvette talked about how important it is for students like us to be heard, and her answers to our questions were incredibly useful.

Having a visit from someone as important in the local community as Yvette is a great way of inspiring pupils, most of whom won’t have had the chance to speak to an MP before. However, the best thing about having a speaker like Yvette visit our school was that she taught us that if we work hard we really can do anything we want.

Report by Megan Bolderson

For more information go to: http://www.speakers4schools.org/

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable