Impington VC head’s powerful message to Cambridge businesses


“Step up and work with schools in Cambridge – it is in your interests”

It’s worth watching the video below in full.

Speech by Mr Ryan Kelsall, head teacher of Impington Village College

I’ve known Mr Kelsall and his family since I started primary school – our mothers have remained close friends to this day.

I’m not going to embarrass him about tales from what we were both like in our school and college years. We went our separate ways after college, me on my path into, through and out of the civil service, and Mr Kelsall into teaching at a number of schools in Cambridge before taking charge at Impington. The most important thing from the speech he gave at the Form the Future AGM at the new Trumpington Community College was his challenge to businesses: Work with schools – it’s in your interests.

To moaning businesses complaining about young people: Step up or shut up

The above is more my message than his. The point Mr Kelsall makes is that schools today have much more of a vocational focus than when he and I were students in the classroom. To ensure that the education schools give to our children is one that can help them in the jobs market – and meet the skills shortages that employers spoke of means that the latter need to get involved with Form the Future – who have now set up the infrastructure, systems and processes that make things much easier for schools and businesses to work together.

There really is no excuse for employers in Cambridge to drag their feet – especially the medium-to-large sized firms.

We know that party politics is a mess. We know that Whitehall and Westminster is a mess, and that machinery of government is now tied up with Brexit – a move that was hardly popular with employers in and around Cambridge. I noted now representatives from a number of large employers at the AGM were scathing of Government policies across the field – from education to health to Brexit. It was something I hadn’t quite expected given the reputation the Conservatives have for being the party that understands business. At the same time, I didn’t get any sense that employers were particularly supportive of any other political party. Which means we have issues with our democracy – something for a later blogpost.

Thinking as a city – what is Cambridge’s offer to our young people?

Mr Kelsall examined this in his talk towards the end in a similar manner that I have been repeatedly asking the local government sector in Cambridge what our city’s offer is to young people regarding democracy education. From Mr Kelsall’s perspective he was asking businesses to think beyond their own firm and for everyone in the room to ‘think as a city’. What would it look like if businesses collectively not just acknowledged, but embraced their responsibility for all of our city’s children? What would it look like if our business leaders said: “We are a responsible and civically-minded business. We get lots out of being in Cambridge and doing business here. Therefore we have a civic duty to give something back. To meet this duty we will be offering… [X,Y,Z].” ?

The onus is now on Cambridge’s employers to stand up and be counted.



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