After a two-year hiatus, it was exciting to restart the prestigious London Study Visit for sixth-form Economics and/or Politics students on 28 June.
Fortunately, the train timetable was back on track, and the students were delighted to board the 5:58am service from Newcastle to Kings Cross!
First stop: Bracken House, Financial Times HQ, where Andrew Jack, Global Education Editor, had arranged meetings with Abbie Scott, Deputy Managing Editor, and Martin Sandbu, European Economics Correspondent.
Abbie accompanied us to the roof garden at Bracken House where we were able to take in the amazing sights. It was a fantastic backdrop for some photographs and a sign of the awesome experiences that were about to come. Next stop: the newsroom floor for an impromptu chat with Matthew Garrahan, the News Editor. Matt kindly asked a couple of the journalists to join us for a brief chat about how students might pursue a career in journalism. As we made our way out, none other than Chris Giles, Economics Editor, happened to walk into the room. We are big fans of the Payne’s Politics podcast, so it was great to meet Chris, a regular contributor. Again, Chris was kind enough to chat and share a few words of wisdom on A level exams. Abbie shared some details of her career, before introducing Martin Sandbu, European Economics Correspondent. Martin was particularly keen to hear the students’ assessment of the headwinds facing the UK economy and it was a wonderful opportunity for students to discuss the topics they so often read about as part of their interaction with the Financial Times for Schools Programme. What a way to start the visit!
Packed lunches were devoured in the beautiful surroundings of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and from there it was a short walk to the London School of Economics (LSE) where we met alumnus Adam French, Partner at Houghton Street Ventures (a venture capital firm founded in partnership with LSE) and co- founder at Scalable Capital.
Adam had arranged for us to meet at LSE Generate, LSE’s home for entrepreneurship, and a shared workspace where early-stage LSE founders can meet and have immediate access to expertise. As someone who has been through that journey, Adam obviously has a lot of wisdom to share. It was fantastic to also meet Hannah Leach, Partner at Houghton Street Ventures, and Alice Eddie, Generate’s Global Engagement Lead, both of whom outlined their involvement with Generate.
Having given us a whistlestop tour of his own career, Adam then introduced two budding young entrepreneurs who are working hard to build their own companies, one in pharmaceuticals, and the other in edtech. Both entrepreneurs pitched their business concept to the students and then took questions from the floor. An inspiring end to an amazing first day in London.
Day two, and it was a short walk from the hotel to the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street. We had booked a tour of the museum, something which we have never done before but would certainly recommend. The displays and interactive activities provide a very accessible route into understanding the role of the Bank of England. Recently, Andrew Hebden, Head of Outreach and Education at the Bank of England, visited us in College, so it was nice to see him on his own turf at the Bank.
Our final visit of this particular tour began with Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead, who met us in the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament. Ian had booked a room for us which is usually used for Select Committee meetings and there was a real sense of occasion as we sat in such grand surroundings. Little did Ian know that he was in for an intensive couple of hours of questioning! To our amazement, Ian then accompanied us to the terrace for some group photographs. A once in a lifetime experience!
This was a truly remarkable visit and one that will live long in our memories. We would like to thank all those involved for facilitating such rich experiences for our students.