The following blog is written by Let Us Learn founder Chrisann Jarrett. Chrisann was asked to speak about Let Us Learn and the student finance regulations with students at her old school, Clapton Girls’ Academy. On 9th November, she did just that and reflects below on what she and the campaign learned from the experience.
The presentation at my old sixth form was about fifteens minutes long. I spoke to the students about my story.
This is the best way to enable the audience and the individual students to understand and to empathise with what and I – and what Let Us Learn as a group – is saying. Of course, not everyone in the audience is going to hear our stories and be able to stand up and say, “Yes, I am unable to go to university because I’m blocked from getting student finance!”. We know that it is not that simple and not that easy for many young people to share their predicaments publically. Many of us have stayed silent for many years.
However, I believe that the plight of one group of students is capable of unifying the rest of the student community – especially if we Let Us Learners share our stories. So this visit was not necessarily about identifying who else was caught by the policy trap, or indeed still waiting for their papers from the Home Office. Instead, it was about sharing information about a movement, a movement which may affect a student’s friend, or the cousin of a teacher, or any number of other permutations.
After I finished speaking, I was approached by one proactive young woman who was impacted by the issue. Enabling young people who are affected by the issue to come out and speak to us afterwards will be the tricky part of our work and not everyone is as confident and open as this one young woman . Staying behind to speak with me or other Let Us Learners may alert other students that there is an issue. Having gone through this problem myself, I know that I didn’t want my peers to realise that there was anything which set me apart from them.
This has made me think of different ways to engage these young people when visiting schools in future. This is something myself and the Let Us Learn team will need to be creative about. But overall, getting out there and speaking about the campaign and the work we have done is always something which I embrace. It gets people talking and that sparks an interest. At the end of the day Let Us Learn is not about membership exclusive to those who ‘tick a box’ but rather anyone who feels passionately about the issues young people face and want to be a part of the solution.
By Chrisann Jarrett