Robert Hannigan visited the school on Thursday 21st September as part of our drive to Engage minds and broaden horizons. As the former Head of GCHQ he is extremely qualified to speak with our students on the careers available in the technology sector. He delivered an exciting talk to a selection of Y9, 10 and 11 computing students about his experience in this area and the role of GCHQ. The students asked a number of insightful questions and really took advantage of Robert’s experience. As the students came out of the talk there was a buzz of excitement at having met a real life spy, even if he didn’t have a licence to kill.
The next stop for Robert was a lively debate with our Y9 students and Mr. Parker. The students had only received the debate motions on the Monday and had worked tirelessly to prepare their arguments. Robert sat in on the debate and listened closely to the students well thought out points of view. The first debate motion was ‘Global peace is an impossible dream’ and this was well debated by both sides. I was extremely proud of our students as they made eloquent points both for and against the motion. Robert’s experience of the Northern Ireland peace process made him the perfect guest and he added to the debate considerably. The second motion was ‘The UK government does not have the right to spy on its people’ and this drew a wry smile from our guest. The students again performed with style as they tackled this issue. Robert was impressed with their subtle and well-made points as well as their confidence to stand up in front of their peers and debate.
The final stop for Robert was to launch our Cipher challenge with Y7 students. Mrs Marsden and Mrs Cooper had already begun the lesson when we arrived and students were enthusiastically solving the first cipher. Robert had brought prizes with him for the students which included GCHQ pens and a rare Alan Turing monopoly set. These will be given out to the students who get the furthest in the Cipher challenge.
All the students involved in Robert’s visit were fantastic and took advantage of the opportunity of meeting someone which such a wealth of experience. I hope that Robert’s visit is the first in series of important speakers coming to Seaham High School to engage minds and broaden horizons for our young people.