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

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

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: Just what the election needs – another superficially popular but foolish policy

John Rentoul
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to the super rich

Terence Blacker
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence