Crawley and Gatwick School Students Learn to Become Role Models

Students from secondary schools in Crawley and Gatwick learnt how to be role models for younger students as part of an on-going programme to improve their confidence and life chances. Students, aged between 13 and 14, are taking part in the inspirational Be the Change programme, which is happening for the second time Gatwick and Crawley after an extremely successful first year in 2016-17. 

Participants at the Be the Change ‘Stepping Up Conference’ spent the morning learning the importance of leadership skills and working to support others, before being taken by surprise when they were joined by younger children from local primary schools for the afternoon session held at the Hilton London Gatwick Airport on Friday, January 12. 

Be the change Gatwick Crawley

Organised by in partnership with Graham Moore of metamoorephosis, the programme has more than 40 volunteers from local businesses and the public sector acting as business guides helping young people fulfil their potential and improve their life chances. It focuses on happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability by identifying and removing barriers to success, encouraging self-belief and raising aspirations. Over the course of the school year the students work with the business volunteers at day long events, one-to-one mentoring sessions and workplace visits. 

This year’s programme would not be possible without support from this year’s sponsors: Arora Hotel, B&CE, Crawley Borough Council, Gatwick Airport (this year’s headline sponsors) Hilton London Gatwick Airport, NatWest and the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. 

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Graham, who led the delivery on the day said: “Our vision is for every young person to have raised hope and confidence, to have the chance to develop life skills and create positive cycles that will prepare them for life. “Working with the younger children brings out the positive role model in our students. It promotes qualities such as leadership, team working and a sense of responsibility to those around them, especially younger and more vulnerable people. This activity also offers a great chance for the younger students to develop their confidence and experience of being around secondary school students in preparation for moving into higher education.” 

The secondary schools involved in this year’s programme are: Ifield Community College, Hazelwick School, Holy Trinity Church of England Secondary School, The Gatwick School, Oriel High School, St Wilfrid’s Catholic School and Thomas Bennett Community College. The primary schools who took part in the Stepping Up activity are Gossops Green Primary and Waterfield Primary. 

Keely Willis, IAG Co-ordinator at Thomas Bennett Community College said: “This is the second time that we have taken part in the Stepping Up Conference which is a positive and inspiring day. I love to see the student’s faces when the primary school students arrive and how they wish to become their role models. It amazes me to see the changes the students are already making.” 

The idea for Be the Change came from Gary Peters, Founder of He said: “There was an incredible dynamic shift the moment the younger students entered the room and the activities were then led by the Year 9 students themselves. They really did ‘Step Up’ to support and lead the Year 5’s and 6’s which was fantastic to see. The Be the Change programme helps young people to recognise and build on their strengths and gives them the tools and confidence to make the right decisions.” 

Patrick Heath Lay, CEO at supporting sponsor B&CE says: ‘‘I’m delighted that B&CE is able to give something back to the next generation that will have a positive and lasting impact. We’ve been operating in Crawley since 1963, and believe that being able to recognise, mentor and inspire young talent is crucial for the success and prosperity of our local community.’’ 

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Ben Chubb, from NatWest said: “It was easily recognisable, and I was impressed with the changes and the journeys that many of the students had made already since the launch in November 2017. The students acknowledgement of a need to change, in attitude, behavior and recognising the impact of this was impressive. The best bit of the day for me was seeing these students suddenly have to switch from being the mentee, to the mentor. The surprise of having to support the Yr 5 & 6 students, instantly seemed to flick a switch in them, and they stepped up, inspiring and helping the younger students, demonstrating that they could be and are positive role models themselves to others. We are really proud to be supporting Be the Change, for the 2nd year as business guides.” 

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