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Sir Peter Lampl returns to RGS

Distinguished Reigatian, Sir Peter Lampl, returned to Reigate Grammar School to deliver the latest Henry Smith Lecture to the current Sixth Form as part of our enrichment programme.

Sir Peter’s theme was “Giving yourself a chance to get lucky!” Whilst acknowledging the value of a good degree, he stressed the importance to the workplace for broader skills provided in great schools such as RGS where value-added experience developed character and confidence.

You need to be confident and have self-belief but also the drive and commitment to work hard and achieve your goals. Funny, the harder I worked the luckier I became.

To a captivated audience he impressed current pupils with his ability to recite the full list of classmates from his first form! This included Sir Peter Gershon, who is President of the Henry Smith Club. It is impressive to think that two members of the same form went on to receive knighthoods.

Peter Lampl is acknowledged to be the UK’s leading educational philanthropist.  In 1997 he founded the Sutton Trust which is dedicated to improving social mobility through education. Peter has given over £50 million to the Trust to achieve this aim.  The Trust is a ‘do tank’ supporting 4,000 students per year on programmes, producing 15 research studies per year, and influencing government policy.

A key theme was the issue of social mobility and education policy in the UK. This brought great debate during ‘Question Time’ particularly on the theme of Grammar Schools. Sir Peter said, “The evidence is clear that establishing Grammar Schools now would have limited effect on social mobility in this country. The key is to make top performing schools ‘open access’ and acknowledge the important impact independent schools such as RGS can play in tackling this issue.” He stressed that a key issue for state schools was that they are ultimately judged on results which means very little emphasis is given to those wider skills mentioned above that develop the individual.

As part of his introduction, Sean Davey (RGS Foundation Director) stated the sad fact from the recent ‘State if the Nation 2015’ report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, that although as a country we have become wealthier, we have struggled to become fairer. Reigate Grammar School, through its commitment to wider access is driving forward with its Changing Lives campaign and looking to offer increasingly more places to children from disadvantaged backgrounds based on ability and potential.

Sir Peter summed up the mood brilliantly when he quoted Winston Churchill:

What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?

Click here for pictures from the day.

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