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Sep 26

Sixth Form Q&A with the Archbishop of Canterbury

On Friday 12th September the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Bristol to tour the diocese, and we were very privileged and fortunate that he chose to kick-start his weekend by visiting our sixth form for an informal Q&A session which lasted an hour, demonstrating his real commitment to young people and to education.  


Addressing the Sixth Form

To start things off the three of us on ‘the panel’ asked a few questions that were more scripted to allow the Archbishop to introduce himself: who he is, what he does, what his work involves and his plans for the future. It was particularly interesting to hear him talk about his role within the Church of England, and he seemed like a genuinely humble guy, playing down his own importance and talking about the importance of everyone’s involvement and how decisions must be make collectively if they are to be for the benefit of the whole church. He was also very focused on the church being of service to the wider community.


Rachel writes that

One of my questions focused on why he, as the Archbishop, felt he should be concerned with the worlds of business and finance, considering this is a topic he has spoken out on strongly. His answer included an explanation of how our practical lives and our spiritual lives are not independent of each other. As a Christian myself, I found this response very helpful.


Questions were then open to the floor and the audience of roughly 70 people did not hold back. The Archbishop was grilled on many hotly debated topics such as relations with other faiths, our approach to the Bible, church unity, LGBT inclusion, the role of women and euthanasia. He answered all questions thoroughly, reflectively and respectfully, and gave some real insight to all the different aspects of an issue he has to consider when making decisions. 


We were very struck by how open and honest he was. He shared numerous personal stories with us, the most memorable of which being his reconciliation work in Nigeria where he worked with a Christian community and a Muslim community to prevent the violence that was occurring between the two groups.  


Afterwards, the three of us headed up to BBC Radio Bristol to do a live interview on our experience, which was a bit scary but seemed to go well.


By Rachel Gallop, Richie Betts and Fatin Guled.





Jan 7

SMRT Envision Team Wins £555 in Dragon’s Den-style Pitch4Change

Envision is a charity that mobilises young people to make ‘people-powered change.’ We are a group of ten SMRT students and through this we have formed ‘Asylum Seeker Action.’ Originally from a wide range of schools in Bristol, we’ve seen the lack of education for teenagers about asylum seekers and refugees. Many asylum seekers will have lost everything due to war, persecution or torture. They often cannot speak English, have no right to work, are faced with gruelling legal challenges, are given housing no one else wants and must live on just £36 a week. But having to stand up to prejudice could be unbearable. We want to combat the negative stereotypes surrounding asylum seekers and refugees.


Our project is to deliver workshops to Year 8 classes across the city. We really want the students to be able to meet real refugees and listen to their stories as well as learning through games. We’ll then distribute resource packs to every school in Bristol so the workshops can be recreated.


We were recently given the opportunity to take part in ‘Pitch4Change.’ Along with Envision groups from seven other schools, we presented our community project to a group of some of Bristol’s most prestigious business men and women in order to win funding. Opened by a speech from Mayor George Ferguson, the day was full of inspirational talks and film challenges!


We watched the other schools’ pitches nervously – all were amazing and unique. However we had nothing to worry about, ours too went very smoothly. We had had three great mentoring sessions with Clarke Wilmott Solicitors beforehand allowing us to practise lots and prepare for difficult questions.


Afterwards we were given a challenge to film a news report on the day. We interviewed the Lord Mayor and a student from another school. SMRT was awarded first place, winning an extra £100 for our project! With much suspense, we were presented our giant cheques! We were given the full amount we had requested - £455! The day ended with speeches, photos and saying goodbye to new friends, all of us inspired to carry out our project and make a real change in our community.

giant cheque

Eleanor Gardner

(Other team members: Rayan Bana, Dylan Brown-Wilkinson, Ruby Dark, Fatin Guled, Indi Hadi, Chloe Harkness, Carlo Hornilla and Grace Tiu)


Nov 4

Inspiring Young People

The Bristol Young People's "Inspirer of the Year Awards" took place on Saturday 19th October and of the eight nominations from across Bristol two were from SMRT 6th Form -

* the "Equal People" Envision group, whose amazing project taking a workshop challenging sexist and homophobic language into schools around Bristol is featured in a previous 6th Form Story on this site, and

* Kwabena Edwards, a year 13 student who came to the UK from Ghana a few years ago and and has completed a physically gruelling National Citizen Service programme. Kwabena has cerebral palsy, which gives him some difficulty with both mobility and speech. The NCS programme takes four weeks through the summer holidays. In the first week students did a rigorous outward bounds programme including climbing and caving. The second week was spent at UWE meeting representatives of different charitable groups and learning about the voluntary sector. The last two weeks were then spent volunteering, in Kwabz's case with the Wild Goose Cafe in Easton, which works with homeless people and recovering addicts etc., talking and befriending the visitors. The cafe has been chosen by this years 6th Form students as one of their two Rag charities. Kwabz so impressed the organisers of the NCS programme that they nominated him to the Inspire Awards as their most impressive volunteer of the year.


In a field of tremendously inspiring young people all round, Kwabena received the overall "Inspirer of the Year Award", and a more surprised and unassuming winner you couldn't hope to meet.

In addition, John Gibby from Year 13 was on the stage selling the work of the Bristol Youth Council, of which he is the chair. In fact Redcliffe had a third nominee in former student Alex Burnett, a young carer who has not only looked after his grandparents but has succeeded in passing his GCSEs, playing for his local rugby club and taking part in a 10-week community programme.


Award winners

Oct 11

Every leader starts somewhere... by Matthew Mills

Every leader starts somewhere...


Take a second to consider this statement. You may not have thought about it before, but all public figures, from Cameron to Obama, are not in any way larger than life; in fact, they are more similar to us than is usually recognised. Their position is the only thing that sets them apart, and these positions can be gained by any one, if they apply themselves appropriately.

On the other hand, when someone considers what it is that makes a leader, the words "young people" or "teenager" do not usually come high on their list. This is perhaps not surprising, due to our lack of experience, but it is wrong to dismiss youth as credible leaders. This is because young people have the most potential to become them. A fact that the people at the Bristol Leadership Programme (BLP) know well. Piloted in 2012 the programme aims to identify capable young people from underprivileged backgrounds and create a platform to help them reach positions of leadership that may otherwise have been unobtainable in their current situations.

I came onto the programme this year after being put forward by my head of year, qualifying for the programme due to my status as a child in care and as a student who had been recognised as talented. I will admit that I was sceptical at first as I had little information and not much interest in leadership, at least not in a political sense. I decided to test the water, attending an interview with programme director Tracie Jolliff. After being offered a place, I took part in the BLP induction in June in an attempt to see what the programme was all about.

The outline was certainly impressive. A two week schedule (this year from the 8th-19th July), the programme boasted seminars and workshops from public figures from all areas, including top university professors, barristers, politicians, entrepreneurs and architects. Amongst some of the most notable were George Ferguson, the mayor of Bristol, and David Berg, professor of psychiatry and lecturer in the department of arts and science at Yale university. As well as this there were personality profiles and other inputs by JCA Global and High Growth Knowledge Company, who specialise in Emotional Intelligence and all aspects of leadership development. It certainly looked intriguing.

With this in mind, I cancelled a trip I had planned with school and jumped aboard. I was certainly not disappointed. From the first day I was drawn in by the engaging schedule and also the social aspect of the programme, joining ten other young people aged sixteen and above. A typical day on the programme, starting at 1:30pm, consisted of three ninety-minute seminars, with a break in between. Each evening from 7pm onwards we would host a different high profile guest, providing the chance for the members of the programme to get advice and support in their fields of interest, with the chance of getting work experience and possible internships. As well as this, we would be joined by members of the Bristol junior chamber, an organisation of entrepreneurs under the age of 40, who also provided advice and stories about their own experiences, which was an extremely beneficial insight which otherwise would not have been available to the young talent in the room.

The most beneficial thing I gained from the programme was opportunity; through the workshops and seminars I have opened doors that would otherwise have remained closed. I met many influential people and now have a larger understanding of what I need to do to put myself out there and make an impression. Coaches and mentors provide a support network which stays with you for at least 12 months and helps you take the steps needed to get where you want to be. On top of this, I met 10 of the most incredible people, all of whom were from different backgrounds and all of whom were inspiring in different ways. I am still in contact with them after the programme. The programme’s emphasis on breaking the class barrier within leadership was also inspiring, with talks from a wide range of people who were not from privileged backgrounds, including black & minority ethnic speakers who had excelled.

A strong message I would pass on is that leadership is not all political and constitutional. The programme has taught me that you can be a leader in any aspect, whether it be in sport, music or amongst your friends. If you put the effort in, then the benefits will be obvious. I myself am excited for my future as an ambassador for the programme, and where it will take me. The programme’s motto is "accidentally gifted, deliberately brilliant", and similarly the BLP was given a chance to transform the lives of those involved, and it has done a deliberately brilliant job.

If anyone would like more information, look to the BLP website:


Group picture


This year's participants, all dressed up!

May 23

Envision Projects 2013

The Envision project at St Mary Redcliffe is a fantastic opportunity for students to make a real impact in their local community, developing skills of team work, resilience, creativity and social action. For the past two years, students working in partnership with Envision have shown incredible initiative and tenacity and proven a true inspiration for change in the community. This year's groups focused on the issues of homophobic and sexist language, homelessness, and sexism.

Team 'Equal People' surpassed all expectations with the lasting impact of their project, aimed at confronting homophobic and sexist language used by young people in Bristol. After deciding the most effective way of challenging this sensitive topic was through drama, they developed an hour long educational workshop to present to local schools. Their work made a huge impact on their various audiences and won admiration and critical acclaim from teachers, students and community leaders alike. Their work was so insightful and thought provoking that local charity EACH have had the piece professionally filmed to be used as a teaching resource in schools nationally.

Team 'Vision:Rucksack' focused on homelessness, aiming their project at directly helping the homeless people of Bristol. Their target was to provide backpacks with essential equipment and provisions to make life more bearable for those living on the streets. They successfully applied for funding and were granted £300 from the O2 Think Big programme. Working in partnership with local charity Wild Goose, the group gave away 15 stocked rucksacks to those most in need.


Team Vision: RucksackTeam 'Vision:Rucksack' with local charity Wild Goose


The Viewfinders group took an alternative approach to the problem of homelessness. Their aim was to challenge the negative attitudes of people towards the homeless and the issue of homelessness. Working in conjunction with local charity Independent People they researched what it was actually like to be homeless and produced a short film which innovatively confronts people's negative views on homelessness and encourages viewers to put themselves in the shoes of those living on the streets.

The Equality Team wanted to highlight how sexist attitudes still exist in society and aimed to educate teenagers on how to avoid reproducing these attitudes. They gave a presentation to year 10 students, highlighting the historic struggle for equality between the sexes, outlined the continuing lack of representation by women in more powerful, high status jobs and discussed with students on how changing their behaviour can have an impact on this important issue.

The Envision co-ordinator working with St Mary Redcliffe was so impressed by the achievements of the Envision projects at the school, that she invited the regional stakeholders of the project to an assembly at the school showcasing the achievements of the four groups. The audience were blown away by the accomplishments of each group, vividly illustrating how individuals can make a difference through community action. The first two teams mentioned have also been invited to present their projects at a special event on the 28th May to an audience including Mayor George Ferguson.