David Morrissey, Ed Vaizey and Chris Payne kick off our Creative Industries talk series with our 2,500th talk!

25 January 2016

Today has been a very memorable day for Speakers for Schools, hosting our 2,500th talk today, coming a very long way from this day 4 years ago, when we hosted a special event with founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.

It also marks the launch of our new website and the Creativity, Arts and Culture in State Schools talk series with a flurry of great talks, including actor and director David Morrissey, Culture and Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey and senior game programmer Chris Payne. The campaign hopes to inspire all students to consider the arts regardless of their ambitions, and see further leading arts and culture figures give their time to speak to students in state schools to help inform and encourage students.

You can see below for highlights from their talks, photos and questions asked by the students.


 David Morrissey at Northumberland Park School


David Morrissey Speaks at Northumberland Park Community School London. 25/01/16 Pictures Peter Kindersley

Officially marking our 2500th talk, David Morrissey spoke to 100 eager students at Northumberland Park School in Tottenham about his journey from shy kid in Liverpool to enigmatic puppet master in the well known series The Walking Dead.

The life lessons talk showcased the variety of skills and attributes that the creative industries can provide in a wider context for students regardless of the career path they wish to follow. The actor, who is currently performing onstage in the critically acclaimed Hangmen in London’s West End, discussed how joining a drama youth group in Liverpool changed his life. The group, he said, made him engage differently with school; he became more confident and finally looked people in the eye when he spoke to them.

This story of blossoming self-confidence is one David shared in order to show the students that you must take nerves and harness them. What may have come as a surprise to the students was David admitting that he was nervous before he walked into the theatre to talk to them; “What if you didn’t like me?” he said. The humorous remark showed students that creative subjects and the arts can give you skills for life. David’s insights sparked some very interesting questions ranging from the impact different roles had on him, whether you should pursue going to drama school and finally how he learns his lines.

David said of his talk: “ I always enjoy my events with Speakers for Schools. It gives me a chance to share my experiences with young people who are always inquisitive, intelligent and passionate about my chosen profession. I have always felt it’s important for children from working class backgrounds to see and meet people who grew up in similar circumstances to them and who have gone on to be successful in their chosen careers. To be able to share my insights into the creative arts is always a great pleasure.”

Student Enas Palass said: “I think the talk was brilliant and inspired me to think about my future plans and how I can overcome the challenges I face. David made me feel proud of who I am. I feel so pleased to have been given this opportunity.”

Beto, student aged 14 said: “Seeing and hearing David Morrissey speak was very inspiring. He gave a really interesting insight into the acting profession and he has given me the drive to try and succeed at acting. I would love to do his job!”

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Ed Vaizey at Harlington School

Ed Vaizey (6) compressed

The Minister of State for Culture and Digital Economy spoke to 150 pupils at Harlington School, Hayes about the importance of creative subjects and how they contribute to the UK economy. Speaking about the importance of the arts and creativity, the Minister told students the creative industries were growing at three times the rate of the UK economy.

The talk featured fantastic Q+A with young people aged 14 – 18, with the Minister fielding over 25 questions where topics ranged from national issues to the funding of the arts. When asked who in the arts inspire him, the Minister told students he liked the work of Lucian Freud and Tracy Emin.  Students also asked ‘what can DCMS do for culturally diverse communities?’  to which the Minister outlined the work of Arts Council and the funding they are provided for education programmes and their engagement with culturally diverse schools.

Callum, Head Boy and Jodi, Head Girl, Harlington School said “It was really beneficial for students to get the opportunity to gain access to, voice their opinion to, and ask questions of someone with so much respect.”


Alice, a Sixth Form pupil who hopes to work in game design, “The talk was very informative on the political life of Ed and allowed students to speak to a person that could potentially change our lives.”

Chris Payne at the Catholic High School

Also speaking today as a part of Creativity, Arts and Culture campaign was Chris Payne from gaming company Travellers Tales. The Catholic High School in Chester were excited to have a speaker able to shed light on the gaming industry and give a talk to challenge perceptions that students may have had about coding games and working in that area. Chris’ expertise ranges from knowledge of the wide variety of roles within the gaming world in addition to the application of maths, physics as well as art in games. This marriage of disciplines traditionally viewed as ‘STEM’ with creative subjects gives students a well rounded portfolio of skills but is sometimes overlooked by students who only study sciences or arts. Chris hopes his talk shows that both are important and crucially that he believes creativity is a key attribute for any career.

Stay tuned to our News & Events page as well as our Twitter feed to follow talks from further amazing arts speakers including Deborah Bull, Jude Kelly, Toby Jones and more! #S4SArtsEdu