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Distinguished Speakers Programme

Sir Geoffrey Owen - Former editor of the Financial Times

On Wednesday 13 September Matravers School Sixth Form was delighted to welcome its first guest speaker of the new academic year, Sir Geoffrey Owen, Author, Head of Industrial Policy at Policy Exchange and Former Editor, Financial Times.

Sir Geoffrey gave a fascinating talk entitled ‘From Thatcher to Corbyn, a journalist’s view’, which included an overview of the major developments of the period, as well as a number of interesting personal insights he gained during his career. The students were keen to hear of his work reporting on Margaret Thatcher, and were amazed to hear of his time reporting on the Kennedy White House in the early 1960s. Sir Geoffrey fielded many questions from the students and offered advice to those interested in a career in journalism.

Director, Post-16, Ian Browning said, “We are delighted to welcome distinguished visitors to our school. It is a great opportunity for our students to learn from experts and to have their horizons broadened. Sir Geoffrey spoke eloquently and with great clarity, with the students being inspired and engaged throughout. The A level History students especially gained a great deal from this talk.”

Matravers Sixth Form still have a small number of places available for Year 12 students to start this year. Any potential applicants should contact the school directly or see application information on the school website.

John Fingleton - Former head of the Office of Fair Trading

On Monday 19 June, Matravers School Sixth Form welcomed special guest speaker John Fingleton, CEO of Fingleton Associates and former head of the Office of Fair Trading UK. Mr Fingleton gave an engaging and informative presentation about how he has built a highly successful and influential career, firstly as an academic economist at the London School of Economics and Trinity College, Dublin, before moving into the private sector to work on consumer and competition enforcement activity, such as price fixing. He explained how he had gone from a childhood in rural Ireland with an early education which left much to be desired, to working for a period of time offering advice in 10 Downing Street. Mr Fingleton’s current work involves advising major organisations like Google and the Lloyds Banking Group. The talk offered students a window on an area of work which few students knew about and as such helps to support their decision making about their own futures.

Following the talk, Mr Fingleton offered advice to a number of Year 12 students and spent time answering their questions. A number are now considering reading economics or related courses at university as a result of this talk.

John Fingleton is the latest in a growing line of influential speakers to visit Matravers School Sixth Form, which has included Professor Melanie Welham, General Sir Peter Wall, Professor Richard Oreffo, Lord Sharman and Lord Rosser.


Lord Richard Rosser - Trade Unionist and member of the Labour front bench in the House of Lords


Matravers School Sixth Form hosted a talk from a member of the House of Lords on Friday 26 January to encourage students to become more engaged with the political and parliamentary process. Lord Rosser met with Sixth Form students for an hour to talk about the work and role of the House of Lords. This was followed by a question and answer session on various aspects of the parliamentary process, recent political events and life at Westminster generally with A Level History students.

Ian Browning, Director of Post-16 said, “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to interact with someone who knows the parliamentary system inside out, as it can sometimes seem far removed from their daily lives.”

The visit was arranged through the Lord Speaker’s “Peers in Schools” programme, which has been running across the UK since 2007 and has so far involved around 75,000 young people. This continuing outreach programme sends members of the House of Lords into schools/academies and colleges across the country to give talks in support of the citizenship curriculum. For further information, see the Lord Speaker’s web page at .


Professor Melanie Welham

Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Director of Science at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the largest public funder of non-medical biological research in the UK. Professor Welham gave an engaging and informative presentation about how she has built a highly successful and influential career in the science sector, including reflections on the people and circumstances which have had a major impact

She answered many questions from the science students, explaining more details about her cutting-edge work on stem cell research, as well as highlighting what she considers to be the major opportunities in the biological sciences area today. Following the talk, Professor Welham offered individual advice to a number of Year 13 students regarding courses and universities they are considering applying for. This was a hugely valuable experience for the students involved, many of whom have amended their future plans as a consequence of the visit.


General Sir Peter Wall, former Chief of General Staff

On Friday 26 June, Matravers School Sixth Form welcomed their most recent VIP guest speaker, General Sir Peter Wall. The Sixth Form were joined by some Year 10 students and engaged in an enlightening and engaging hour with the general, who talked of his military career, which included his early career as an officer, before becoming the Chief Royal Engineer and eventually Chief of General Staff. The students asked questions about the potential conflict between political directives and personal beliefs, about how to cope with stress, the current situations with IS and the Ukraine, as well as more historic events like the Falklands, Bosnia and Iraq, all of which the General had personal dealings with, including commanding the British forces in Iraq.

Following the talk, General Wall engaged in more informal conversations with students and staff while being served a range of finger foods made by Year 10 catering students. He was particularly interested to learn about the school’s growing links with the military and the forth-coming creation of the school’s cadet force. Sergeant Major Adam Diver of the Warminster Garrison also attended the event to explain the links he has helped develop between the Warminster Garrison and Matravers school.

Director of Post-16, Ian Browning said “It has been a huge pleasure having general Wall talking to our students. He talked with an impressive degree of openness which our students have really appreciated. He has helped to shine a light on many issues our students are interested in and has encouraged them to pursue their ambitions.” General Sir Peter Wall is just the latest in a growing number of VIP guest speakers to visit Matravers School Sixth Form, including Professor Richard Oreffo, Lord Sharman and Lord Rosser.


Professor Richard Oreffo

Professor Richard Oreffo holds the chair of Musculoskeletal Science at the University of Southmapton and is Co-founder of the Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration. During his visit he presented to over 200 Sixth Form and Year 11 students on his career and current research work. Following this there followed a Q&A for students to find out more about the opportunities that the University of Southampton can offer. 

 Lord Sharmon

Matravers School were delighted to welcome Lord Sharman on Wednesday 12th March as part of the ‘Speakers for Schools’ charity programme. Lord Sharman spoke to students across Years 10,11,12 and 13 about his career in the business world, which culminated in him becoming the Chief Executive of KPMG (one of the largest accountancy firms in the world) and chairman of Aviva. His main messages of “ never stop learning” and “not to fear change”, resonated well with Matravers students.

Sixth Form Business Studies students had the added bonus of a wide-ranging and informal discussion with him, covering many aspects of business, including working in China, working with the Thatcher government and ethics in business. There was plenty of food for thought and many students took advantage of the chance to ask detailed questions.