Youth Conference 2019

2019 Isle of Wight Youth Conference: Giving students a voice on Higher Education.

The Isle of Wight Council has a goal to regenerate the island into an inspiring place, where people want to grow up, live, work and visit.  Following the success of the council-led 2018 youth conference, the 2019 youth conference gathered secondary students from across the island to actively discuss and contribute towards the future of higher education on the island. Over 120 students convened for the day, receiving inspiring presentations from individuals who have utilised what the island has to offer to forge a career. Furthermore, the students participated in conversations with experts and industry leaders to brand and market what a single prospectus could look like and how an Isle of Wight higher education campus could be designed.

I was delighted to launch the conference and see the overwhelmingly positive response from the young people there

Councillor Paul Brading
Delegates at the conference

Inspiring speakers

A highly motivational presentation from the Higher Education Network Manager of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Nora Clinton, was followed by presentations from individuals with very different stories about how higher education on and off the island led to them building a career here. These included director of Wyld Events, Josh Peverley and Strings Bar and Venue proprietor, musician, Claydon Connor who outlined his journey from studying at Platform One College of Music to becoming manager of the popular Newport performance space. Feedback from these presentations was very positive, with students expressing surprise at the opportunities already available on the island.

An array of Education Providers and expert table leads

Education providers including the University of Southampton, University of Portsmouth, University of Winchester, the Isle of Wight College, Platform One, UKSA, and HTP Apprenticeship College were all represented to emphasise the extensive ways to study degree-level qualifications while maintaining residency on the island. This came as a surprise to many of the students and is a key motivator behind the Isle of Wight Council aiming to deploy a single higher education prospectus for the island. The exhibitor stands for several of these suppliers were on the display throughout the day for students to gather information, discuss qualifications and discover opportunities whilst living on the island.

The extensive range of organisations represented by table leads and experts included: Yokogawa Marex, Purple Patch PMO, Visit Isle of Wight, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, GKN, KR Sustainability Consultancy, Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, Nosy Design, the Isle of Wight Council, University of Southampton, University of Portsmouth, Mattinson Associates, the Southern Universities Network, and Modh Design. All of whom gave their valuable time to engage with young people about higher education provision on the Isle of Wight, as well as lending their expertise in branding, marketing and designing architecture. The afternoon session was the highlight of the day, with students brimming with creativity getting the chance to get hands on. The tables were split 3 ways, with 4 or 5 tables each working on either branding/marketing the higher education prospectus or designing what a campus or student accommodation could look like. They were given an abundance of recycling and a range of craft materials to invigorate their imagination.

Today has been a fascinating insight into the opportunities the island presents to young people such as myself

Owen Buchan, of Ryde Academy

Students get hands on!

The work that the students produced was very impressive, with some fantastic ideas. Here are just a few examples.

Finally, the students were then given the opportunity to give a short presentation of what their table had created and relay their ideas back to the whole cohort. They embraced the stage and confidently projected their discoveries to the room. The work that the students produced will contribute towards the single prospectus the Isle of Wight Council is going to publish later in the year. Additionally, all the boards with the students’ final work on will be displayed in Thirty High Street, Newport for the public to see.

This day was really exciting, as I got to meet education experts and work with children from other schools


Elen Asatryan, from Ryde School
Pictures of the day