MOD Education Outreach Programme
Under the strap line of ‘giving students a start’, the award-winning MOD Education Outreach Programme has for 16 years been working with Colleges, Academies and Schools across the UK, where diversity is often > 60%, over 100 nationalities and languages are present, and many students are ‘at risk’ with curriculum, personal development and employability skills support. Over 2,500 students every year benefit from support, either in the classroom through mentoring, specialist talks, and mock interviews, or linked in with a ‘taster’ visit to Whitehall. This is in order to give students a flavour of the workplace, many of whom have never visited an employer before and have no one in their family in work.
Andy Gillman MBE
I had the privilege to be invited along with 5 other students – 3 of us in Year 9 and 3 others in Year 10 - to Sandringham School in St. Albans to take part in a Ministry of Defence-organised event. Competing with other local schools, we were tasked with roleplaying the Prime Minister and their Cabinet and using our public speaking, problem solving and teamwork skills to defuse an international crisis: a civil war in the (fictional) country of Dacan, endangering British civilians. We then had to give a press conference to the other students to explain our plan and try to answer the questions directed to us as best we could.
All after a professional pizza lunch, of course.
Although every team gave their best efforts, Sir John Lawes managed to pull through and win in a close victory. Andy Gillman, the overseer from the MoD, praised our team’s coordination and ability. (He also “liked my style” as Prime Minister.)
From our experience (and triumph) in this event, we found out the life of a politician is more difficult than we thought. We learned to improve our skill at working in a team and managing a difficult situation as well as improvisation under pressure from other students’ questions.
As the winning team, we have been invited by Mr Gillman to go to the real Ministry of Defence at Whitehall in London to give a small speech about our experience and how it helped us. We’re very thankful for this opportunity to get involved with the government and excited to head there next week.
Students working on their crisis briefing as members of the Cabinet
Fielding a press conference and taking questions
A group of students from years 9 and 10 had the opportunity to participate in the Ministry of Defence International Crisis Scenario Workshop, at Sandringham. We were presented with a crisis, set in a fictional country, and were then tasked with finding an appropriate solution. We each took on a role from the UK government positions, forming a complete team that covered all aspects of the problem. Using the information we were given, we came up with potential ways to combat the issue, and worked together to agree on a plan of action.
After discussing possibilities amongst ourselves, we had to present our resolution through a press conference. We proposed ideas to the other schools, and then answered questions that they posed to us. This particular part of the afternoon gave us the chance to practice public speaking, and thinking on our feet. It was also very interesting to hear the other schools’ solutions, and seeing the different approaches that people decided to take.
The afternoon challenged us to deal with real life problems that the British government face, and we all left with a heightened awareness of the skills required, such as decision making, communication and also collaboration. An added bonus was the fact that we won the competition, despite it being SJL’s first ever time attending! Andy Gillman MBE, who ran the workshop, even invited us to a celebratory lunch next week in Whitehall, to share our thoughts and opinions on the experience with others. Overall, it was an extremely valuable experience, and a chance to take part in something entirely new and unique.
Inter-School Challenge winners with their certificates presented by Andy Gillman MBE
Following on, the same six SJL students had the opportunity to attend the celebrations held at the Ministry of Defence Headquarters, following the win of the crisis workshop the previous week. Andy Gillman MBE invited Sir John Lawes and a number of other educational institutions to celebrate their participation in the Education Outreach Programme, which he built in 2002 and has run for the past 15 years.
Along with other students, we were asked to provide a short presentation in which to explain the experience and the benefits of the competition. At first we were rather nervous about speaking in front of so many people but as the day progressed, we altered our speeches, gained in confidence and managed to deliver a rather professional piece as a team. We are really grateful to Mr Gillman for giving us the chance to learn about the government and for setting up the programme which gives students a deeper understanding of political roles. The event also proved valuable as it promoted information about working for the MoD. This careers advice could prove useful in the future and was highly appreciated by all the students.
Finally, after thanking Mr Gillman, we received our award certificates, for our success in the inter-school competition, from Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CVO CBE, Chief of Defence People, who has responsibility for the ‘whole force’ - including 140,000 full time and 30,000 part time servicemen and women, 60,000 civil servants, about 200,000 military dependants, and around 2.8 million veterans.
Both the workshop and the celebrations were highly educational and we feel privileged to have partaken in them.
Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CVO CBE, Chief of Defence People
with students from Sir John Lawes School
Andy Gillman MBE
SJL students take the stand