"Drop the controller" - Finn's call to young people from the Norwich TEDx stage

Finn Sagrott was among three students chosen from a group of 250. From a series of workshops in four local Norfolk schools, these students agreed to a journey which would take them from these preliminary rounds in February to the TEDxNorwichED event at The Space in Norwich. Here they would present to a capacity crowd made up largely of teachers, educational specialists and motivational speakers, and the millions of viewers online.

Matt and Daniel with Finn, Tasha and Lily

Matt and Daniel with Finn, Tasha and Lily

Finn and two fellow Norfolk year 10 students, Tasha Godfrey and Lily Lawlor worked tirelessly with Matt Bagley from Camouflaged Learning to build on this initial workshop and prepare not only the content of their speech but for the mental challenge that lay ahead. The mentor sessions with Matt took place anywhere and anytime, using Skype, face-to-face and email in the lead up to this event to finalise techniques and speech.

Before the show Finn spoke about how he was feeling in the lead up to the talk. “I’m not nervous, I can’t wait to do this! I cannot wait to share my passion with people. This is something I love and now I have the confidence and skills to talk about it to all these people.
“I am speaking about renewable energy and engineering for young people. I think this is a really important industry to work in and I would love to learn more about mechanical engineering and the aspects of wind turbines and renewable fuels.”

Finns speech centred on his passion for renewable energy and engineering. He spoke of his experiences at University Technical College Norfolk (an ‘amazing place’).
‘Drop the Controller’, a suggestion that teenage kids are becoming disconnected to the real world with their addiction to computer gaming, was an idea that resonated amongst audience members.

Finn’s father, Mr Sagrott, spoke of Finn’s growth of confidence during the process, “Finn is determined to become an engineer and sharing his views in this way is great for his confidence. This will …increase his chances of achieving his goals.” This is a view shared by Finn’s teachers at University Technical College Norfolk.

Representatives of a UK-based energy company greeted Finn to offer him some words of advice and potential work experience.

Tasha Godfrey from Thetford Academy, spoke on confidence building and having a belief in yourself. Before the event Tasha explained that her goal was to study Drama after school. She said, “My advice to anyone wanting to push their boundaries is to use the support of people around them. My family, Matt and neaco [Take Your Place] have helped so much!”

Tasha’s chosen pathway has come through with the work she has done with Matt, “I’d love to study drama at university, so this experience has helped with skills I will need to remain calm, know my subject well and practice…to express my point.”

After being told in her early life that a successful career in music was “simply the views of a gullible child”, Tasha spoke of how her resilience had grown from this experience and also her belief in the importance of following dreams.

Tasha’s father spoke of the work Matt had done with Tasha, “Matt has been great! He and Tasha had mentoring sessions around our busy home life and Tasha improved her confidence with every meeting they had.”

Lily’s presentation was on technology and the creative industries surrounding digital and modern advancements in the 21st Century. She was the first of our three speakers and set the tone for what was a highlight of the event for many.

Lily’s talk included trying new things and how this will lead to new skills and career opportunities. Her passion for this area was obvious throughout. “I have rehearsed and practiced my breathing and I know now how to keep calm. I know I can do it, it’s just scary seeing how many people are here.”

Take Your Place Higher Education Champion Daniel Hall said, “The Take Your Place project is all about raising aspirations for students in East Anglia to go on to further study after secondary school. We have facilitated and funded Camouflaged Learning to work closely with young people from three schools, Thetford Academy, UTC Norfolk and Wayland Academy in readiness for the talk at TEDxNorwich ED. The students and by association parent community have a much better understanding of study after school as a result of the experiences of Finn, Tasha and Lily.”

Our students received high praise all over twitter and were met with warm and welcoming smiles in the foyer after their talks had finished. Take Your Place will continue working with these (and many other) young people to help them find their passion and support their readiness for progression to higher education.

The project

Take Your Place facilitated and funded Camouflaged Learning to work with students from Thetford Academy, UTC Norfolk and Wayland Academy initially on a one-day workshop, which encourages the students to step outside their comfort zone and promotes confidence and resilience. From this workshop three students were chosen to prepare for a talk at tedXED Norwich junior. The students are carefully chosen as those who are willing to step outside their comfort zone but don’t believe they are capable of standing in front of an audience, particularly something like tedX. Camouflaged learning then worked closely with the students (in collaboration with their parents) as much as the student believes they need, culminating in the talk in Norwich on 28 April.