Inspiring the Future is a free service that connects teachers from state schools and colleges to volunteers from a wide range of employment sectors (including the legal sector) who have pledged one hour a year to speak to school and college students about their chosen career and the education route they took.
It is hoped that by providing this information students will realise the value of education and that with work hard work and determination anything is possible no matter how daunting it may seem. Wanting to give something back to the community one of our team decided to join the scheme earlier in the year.
On 31 March 2017 the writer, Jacqui Morton a Chartered Legal Executive (at Emmott Snell Solicitors) and colleague, Toslima Islam a Legal Assistant (at Emmott Snell Solicitors) had the pleasure of visiting the Bedford Academy to speak to students from Years 7, 8 and 11. This was following an invitation from the school’s, careers department via the “Inspire The Future” scheme.
Prior to our visit we prepared a presentation to give students an insight into our careers and the nature of the work and tasks we undertake in our day to day roles. Given that the majority of our work is in the area of non-recent child abuse, we were careful to tailor our language appropriately. Following this, we explained the various professions in the legal sector and our own particular career journey. This included why we had chosen our particular routes and any difficulties we had faced along the way. The writer explained that a Chartered Legal Executive is a lawyer who has followed one of the prescribed routes to qualification set out by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).
Toslima, a former student at Bedford Academy explained that her goal was to qualify as a solicitor and she had chosen the academic route by obtaining, GCSE’s, A levels, an LLB Law Degree and undertaking the Legal Practice course and a Masters. We ended this part of the presentation by comparing the two and the pros and cons of each route from our perspective. As a former student and Head Girl of Bedford Academy during 2011-2012 Toslima was able to tell the students of the extra-curricular activities she had been involved in and how these had helped her in her chosen career path and encouraged the students to take advantage of these if the opportunity arose.
In order to inject some “fun” into our presentation and to ensure that the students remained engaged (which sounds easier than what it is in reality!) we devised a quiz in which we gave clues as to famous lawyers such as Cherie Blair, Barack Obama and Robert Kardashian - to name but a few.
Overall the results were impressive and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves, including the teachers.
The presentation was rounded off with any questions. These came more easily to some classes to others and the students were assisted with this (if necessary) by their teachers who had prepared some in advance. The nature of the questions was surprising and impressive and demonstrated that the students had listened and were interested by the presentation.
At the end of our presentation the Year 7 class was asked to write about our visit and the “best” three pieces would be awarded a prize. A selection of these pieces (which were all very impressive and informative) were sent to Toslima and I to choose winners, first second and third place which we were happy to do. As an incentive and a thank you we sent vouchers to the winners.
These three pieces were published in the Bedford Academy Summer 2017 School Newsletter together with a photograph of Toslima and I mid presentation. The following quotes are from the winner’s articles.
“Both Toslima and Jacqui have worked on remarkable cases and the fact that they do their job to help people is motivating. Their hard work and effort has definitely paid off and has inspired me to think about going for a career in law. It was interesting hearing about their work and their captivating jobs. Thank you!”
“So what Jacqui and Toslima taught us is that you should pursue your dream career, embrace the years of training which will fly by along with memories filled with joy, laughter, with both success and satisfaction. But, most importantly, they taught us that you can become whatever you wish to be no matter what, but put your heart and soul in to truly make it happen”.
“Once again I would like to thank the Careers Team for sending Jacqui and Toslima to talk to us. I am very sure I would like to be a solicitor!”
We found our visit to the school both enjoyable and rewarding and would not hesitate to encourage others to get involved. We'd like to thank the school, staff and students for their time, warm welcome and most enjoyable school lunch (which certainly has come a long way since the writer was at school!).