Female Empowerment day at Wellington Place, Leeds Business Quarter

This term on the 20th November 2019, the school careers advisor and I took a group of 12 female Year 10 students on a trip to Wellington Place as a follow up event to an impressive “Women in Leadership” day that took place last year. The day was organised by Ahead Partnership to give school students key workplace skills. Following discussions with their year manager, I chose female students who were expected to get GCSE grades 4 and 5 (mid ability learners) and would most benefit from a trip to boost aspirations, confidence, and resilience.


Workshop 1: Problem Solving and Resilience by Law firm, Shulmans

On the day, the girls took part in two workshops with business professionals. The first workshop was by the law firm Shulmans on “Problem Solving and Resilience.” I thought it was really well put together and you could see that the students were very impressed by the swanky offices and appreciated having a bespoke programme tailored to them. In the workshop, students first got to know the law firm volunteers (who were all females which was great!), and developed the skill of problem solving, being able to think on their feet, and solving problems creatively in a pressured environment. You can see a picture below of one of the exercises they had to do which was using marshmallows and spaghetti to build a solid structure. The girls then reflected on the experience and explained that they had developed team work skills and found the time pressure quite challenging. The volunteers explained that delivering to tight deadlines is a key life skill and they commended the girls for delivering in a short amount of time.


The volunteers explaining the problem solving task


The final winning structure of marshmallows and spaghetti


Workshop 2: Debt Management Workshop by Credit firm, Equifax

For the second workshop, Equifax took us through a range of interactive activities around credit scores, credit history and borrowing power. Then they looked at overall money management, dispelled the myths around ‘Instagram lifestyles, and the effects of money mismanagement on credit scores for future credit investments such as mortgages. Some of the stats that we learnt were truly shocking.

Students learning the importance of budgeting


Thoughts on the day

Student thoughts:

Ahead Partnership sent the following feedback to me following the event from pre- and post-event questionnaires that students had filled in:

  • 95% of students thought that it was important to know about life skills at this age (13-19 year olds)
  • 75% of students said they felt more motivated to develop new skills after the workshop and 100% of student s felt they would use the information they learned in the future.
  • “It was very active, so it just wasn’t somebody talking at us all day.”- Leeds West Student


My thoughts

Both the careers advisor and I were really impressed by the day and the quality of both workshops. I had hoped for a bit of quiet on the minibus home but most of the girls were buzzing from the exciting day and reeled off to me lots of trip ideas that they could do in the future including visiting a planetarium, horse riding, and going to an escape room (which all do sound great!). However, some of the girls were pretty wiped from the long day and so a few snoozed on the ride home.

As we all got off the minibus to head home a quieter girl said to me, “Sir, I never get to go on trips normally. Thanks.” It struck me then that some of these students never get the opportunity to do trips outside of school and I was reminded of why this NCOP role is so important; to raise student aspirations and to give them skills for the future which they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Another successful day as a Progression Officer.


Judah Chandra is a Higher Education Progression Officer at Leeds West Academy with particular interests in mindfulness and mental toughness, martial arts, and music.