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Students meet John Sweeney

Students meet BBC Journalist John Sweeney

Over 200 students from Years 7-13 attended at a talk by the BBC journalist, John Sweeney, on Monday 14th May, thanks to the organisation Speakers 4 Schools.

During the hour long session, Sweeney talked about some of his more famous investigations, including his visits to Russia and North Korea and the infamous clash with Scientologists for Panorama in 2007.

The second half of the session allowed students to ask questions and engage with the broadcaster on a more personal level. Questions ranged from “When are you going to retire?” and “Who is your favourite celebrity?” to those about the time he had been the most scared and ones relating to Brexit and the upcoming meeting of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.

Sweeney talked about the impact teachers had had on him as a child and the importance of starting at the bottom of the career ladder and working up. He talked about the importance of speaking up and challenging attitudes in a respectful manner and how to use humour to diffuse tense situations. Giving a voice to those who feel they don’t have one is one of the 5 best things about being a journalist, according to Sweeney.

Four students also walked away with free copies of his publications for asking what he determined “the most irritating questions”.

The students’ engagement was clear to Sweeney himself:

It was huge fun to come to de Ferrers yesterday and tell the students what it’s like to be an investigative journalist, how it feels to rage at Scientology, go undercover to North Korea and talk to the Russian opposition to Putin. I’ve done lots of talks up and down the country at schools and universities but I don’t think I’ve answered so many questions in my life. My favourite was, do you enjoy shopping with your Mum? The answer was no.

The Principal of de Ferrers, Nick Holmes, added:

"It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to listen to John Sweeney talk about his career in journalism in such an entertaining and thought-provoking manner. The students thoroughly enjoyed it - there were so many questions, he couldn't get away!"

The Academy is now hoping to receive more speakers courtesy of Speakers 4 Schools so more students can engage with those working at the top of their field.