Students inspired at academy’s conference

The students took part in different activities during the event
The students took part in different activities during the event

Ormiston Six Villages Academy has held a special Girls’ Conference & Boys’ Development Day for its students.

The Chichester academy held the trailblazing event to champion the progression and opportunities available for their students, following the success of the first boys’ conference and girls’ empowerment day last year.

Getting creative as part of the development day

Getting creative as part of the development day

The day was attended by a whole range of special speakers, from a Great British Olympian, an accessory and fashion designer, to a representative from the Chichester Festival Theatre.

The girls’ conference, which was entitled ‘Women of the Future’, focused on empowering the female students. Introduced by keynote speaker, innovation consultant Lesley Pinder, the girls were inspired with a talk about her career in the charity sector. The boys’ development day focused on addressing the key issues that they may face as they progress through adolescence towards adulthood. The day was kickstarted with a motivational talk from the academy’s own Mr Gunter, before local entrepreneur Janina Cooper spoke about her journey to open the successful skatepark and community hub, The Base, at Shripney.

For both groups, the majority of the day was spent in rotation in different activities. The girls were given the opportunity to try out self-defence classes, and met Team GB gymnast Rochelle Oxley.

The highlight of the day for many of the students was meeting the twice-World Scooter Champion, Jordan Clark, who delighted the boys in the Sports hall by performing tricks and twists. Jordan stayed through to break time to perform a few more tricks in the courtyard, offer tips to keen scooter rider Jamie Stafford and sign autographs.

Selfies with twice-World Scooter Champion, Jordan Clark

Selfies with twice-World Scooter Champion, Jordan Clark

Other sessions got the students thinking about ways of boosting their self-esteem and embracing a sense of gratitude and well-being through strategies to develop thankfulness for even the small things in life. There was also a ‘careers fair’ session which introduced the girls to four successful women.

This included Sarah Bligh, from the Royal Navy, who discussed how her career had allowed her to help other people, travel the world and make a difference. Louise Rigglesford, community partnerships manager at the Chichester Festival Theatre, spoke about her passion for using theatre skills to work with varied community groups including those with dementia or learning disabilities to empower and enthuse them. Hairdresser Laura Grimwood stressed the need to follow your passions. Despite knowing she wanted to train as a hairdresser, she embarked on A levels and then was awarded a degree in biology and emergency medicine, as she intended to work as a paramedic, before returning to her original idea and passion of hairdressing. Leather accessories designer and maker Tamzin Lillywhite, an alumni of the former Westergate Community School, gave an insight into the world of fashion and what it is like to style high profile figures such as Little Mix and work on leading films such as Wonder Woman. As part of this job, she was tasked with designing and making 47 items in just one week. Most recently, she has done some work for the upcoming film Mary Poppins Returns. Tamzin’s key message for our girls was to be resilient and hard-working.

For the boys, their sessions centred around three main topics. ‘The Modern Man’ looked at challenging gender stereotypes and delved into the important topic of mental health, including how society is gradually reducing the stigma surrounding mental health problems and strategies to recognise and support potential changes in their own mental health. The session focused on investing in yourself, and encouraged boys to think about things they could do to set themselves apart from others and give them a competitive advantage in their career and the working world. The boys each wrote pledge cards at the end of the session to remind them of the action they would take to achieve their desired goal.

The second session, ‘Rights, Respect, Responsibilities’, gave the students a chance to form a creative response to questions such as “Have you been bullied?, “Have you ever helped someone?”, “Have you given to charity?”. The boys created artwork on an MDF ‘brick’, depending on whether the question was a right, respect or a responsibility. The finished ‘bricks’ will be assembled to build a ‘Wall of Rights’ to be on show in the Academy’s Gate Theatre. The wall will have a foundation of ‘Rights’, then ‘Responsibilities’, finally topped with a layer of ‘Respect’.

Watching Jordan Clarke perform a trick

Watching Jordan Clarke perform a trick

The third session ‘Why Fight?’ looked at the use of child soldiers throughout history—to provide a context for why we fight and evaluate the triggers for violence as well as strategies for how to defuse violent or angry situations.

Sessions were also held specifically for Year 11 students included revision pods and a session on ‘Acing Exams’, with tips and advice delivered by a team from Chichester College.

The day closed with a keynote speaker for each group; with former RAF pilot, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Mandy Hickson delivering the final talk of the day to the girls, whilst the boys’ closing address was from Paul Sanderson MBE, chaplain at the Littlehampton Academy, who is passionate about the spiritual welfare and development of young people.

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