12 Nov - The Power of English in the 21st Century


Nine Year 11 boys travelled to Newstead Woods this week for a conference to affirm the power of studying English in the 21st century. A broad array of speakers eloquently outlined the skills they used in their careers gleaned from studying English. 

Joe England, a barrister specialising in employment law, celebrated his ability to skim read, choose the right words in court and tell convincing stories. Carly Smallman, a professional comedian, entertained us with hilarious anecdotes about being a struggling stand-up eating tins of beans but nevertheless passionate about what she does. She enthused about writing every day, explaining that she produces lots of material for herself and other comedians. She shared a secret with us that she, an unassuming housewife from Streatham writes some of Frankie Boyle’s most explicit material. She also stressed how useful English had been in preparing her to write in different voices and see life from new perspectives.  

A CEO of her own accountancy business revealed that 75% of her day was communicating with board members, clients and staff while a junior doctor confided that her communication skills were vital to the success of her placement in A&E. Ramzan Karmall told us that he was a passionate storyteller giving up Investment Banking to join the BBC as a business news reporter working on Radio 5 Live’s ‘Wake Up To Money’ and the ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4.  

Another speaker, Catherine Frankcom, has recently published her debut novel having worked in marketing.  She studied science but realised that it was creating stories that inspired her. She spoke affectingly about the benefits to mental health of pursuing one’s dreams.  

Suyin Haynes, senior reporter at TIME Magazine, in London, eulogised about Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Jean Rhys’ ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’. Showcasing her interviews with Stormzy and Greta Thunberg she wowed us with her exciting and varied role. 

The session convinced us all that English provides vital skills for the modern world and proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable occasion. 

Professions mentioned which are relevant to English studies included: barrister, solicitor, journalist, accountant, police detective, theatre and music producer, novelist, broadcaster, UN executive, diplomat, academic and teacher. 


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