BBC Business Correspondent Volunteers with Tutorfair

Pete Kirby

May 18, 2016

Many of you may recognize our newest Tutorfair Foundation volunteer, The BBC Business Correspondent, Ben Thompson. Ben kindly donated his time to host a class of 29 Year 10 students at our partner school, Paddington Academy. Below are some highlights from the special day.

Ben Thompson BBC and Tutorfair
Ben took part in a lesson designed by Paddington Academy's Business Studies teacher to raise awareness of the EU referendum and gave the students a chance to practise their presenting skills.

First, Ben asked the students to list the qualities they think a good presenter should possess, and discuss how they think a good chair would conduct an interview or debate. The Paddington Academy Business students came up with fantastic suggestions, listing qualities like articulation, confidence, and projection as signs of a good presenter.

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Ben also offered his own presenting tips to the class:

It's not about you
As a presenter, it's important to acknowledge that it's always about your guests. Ben stressed that the objective of presenting is not to steal the limelight. Viewers are watching and listening because they want to hear from a variety of voices, not just you.

The importance of impartiality
Leading on from the point above, Ben pointed out that the BBC pride themselves on being impartial. Viewers don't want to hear the presenter's opinion, they want to hear from the industry experts. The aim is to present a balanced view and avoid personal bias.

Ben and the students discussed presentation styles, and compared those of Fox News reporters with the BBC. It was an interesting discussion, as it gave the students a window into how news reporters can influence public perception.

Presenters are facilitators
A good presenter can facilitate an interesting and engaging debate, give equal opportunity to her guests, and present a balanced view within a short time frame. Therefore, a good presenter needs to ask open questions and allow her guests to make their point, whilst keeping the debate contained within a tight time schedule.

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Practising their Skills
To apply their new skills, the GCSE students brainstormed the arguments for and against 'Brexit' in the pending EU referendum, focusing on areas such as business, immigration, economy and sovereignty.  In groups of three, students were tasked with scripting the most compelling arguments for both sides and to present their findings in a mini-debate. Within their groups, one student would argue for, one against, and a third would introduce and moderate the debate.

The GCSE students presented their debates to the rest of the class, and received feedback from Ben on the clarity of their arguments. One student who participated in the day said, "I learnt a lot of good ways to prepare myself when speaking in front of a people and sounding really confident!"

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Q&A
Finally, Ben opened up a Q&A session to the Business Studies students, and tackled some great questions:

"Do you think we should leave the EU?" - great question from the Business students who were intrigued to hear Ben's personal opinion after all that talk about impartiality!

"What qualifications do you need to work for the BBC as a presenter or a journalist?" It was lovely to see that Ben had inspired some of the students to consider a career in journalism! Ben explained that he pursued his passion for business rather than studying journalism or media studies. He also said that he is living proof that anyone can start at the bottom and work their way to the top.

"Can you arrange a trip for us to visit your studios?" Another wonderfully resourceful question, and if the answer is "yes," I hope the Tutorfair Foundation team get to tag along!

Ben Thompson was a truly inspiring guest, and the debate was a fantastic way to bring current events to the classroom and discuss politics interactively. Thank you, Ben!

If you think you could inspire the students of Paddington or any of our other partner schools, get involved in our volunteering programme!