As an off-shot of the London Schools and the Black Child conferences, I decided it was vital to highlight high achievers. It was clear that many young Black people were receiving exceptional results and I wanted to recognise their success. Furthermore, the idea behind the awards is to counteract the negative press that young black people can get in the media. The young people recognised at the Awards are held up as role models to other young people.
Each year there are 24 shortlisted candidates in the categories: GCSE boy, GCSE girl, A Level boy, A Level girl, Higher Education boy and Higher Education girl. One girl and one boy is awarded the winner in each level category. Every year my office receives hundreds of nominations. As such the academic standard is very high and so candidates are shortlisted on the basis of their academic achievements but also on their presence as a role model – be it through overcoming hardships, taking part in extra-curricular activities, contributing to their school or wider communities, or helping others.
2008 was the third year that the LSBC Awards have taken place at a ceremony in the House of Commons. Guests included the families and friends of the awardees, prominent MPs and members of the House of Lords, invited press and others who are interested in education. Speakers at last year's Awards included broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, comedian Lenny Henry, one of Britain’s wealthiest black businessman Damon Buffini and the BBC’s original “Apprentice” Tim Campbell. It was a fantastic evening full of inspirational stories from the young people and our speakers.
After the Awards ceremony the celebrity speakers gave their comments on the LSBC Awards: -
Lenny Henry said:
“I was thrilled to be invited to join in with the 'London Schools and the Black Child' awards this year. This ceremony is a great opportunity to show how well black children in London are doing. These youngsters haven't just reached a national standard, they have far exceeded it. It is important that London and the rest of the country recognise that. Personally, l know how difficult it is to juggle other responsibilities with studying. Right now I'm being a father, husband, working through a Master's degree and trying to maintain a career simultaneously-but this is nothing compared to what these guys have been up to - the people we are celebrating on October 3rd have worked, looked after siblings, mentored younger students, volunteered in the community, played competitive sports, been part of music groups and even helped build a school in India whilst still achieving incredibly high grades. I take my hat, shoes, socks and pants off to anyone who can do that. Congratulations and big up yourself! You rock!”
Damon Buffini commented:
“It is a huge privilege to be able to recognise the achievements of London’s young people at the London Schools and the Black Child Academic Achievement Awards. It is so important that we celebrate the academic achievement of our young people because hard work and determination offer the clearest routes to genuine respect. Excellence is the passport to success in a globalised world and I look forward to seeing these young people shaping Britain’s classrooms, boardrooms and public life in the 21st Century.”
Sir Trevor McDonald said:
“The students being celebrated at the London Schools and the Black Child Awards are an inspiration to all of us. They have shown that through motivation, concentration and a passion for their studies there are no limits to educational success. I understand the importance of studying and broadening the mind. A commitment to learning has served me well and I am convinced will ensure the young people shortlisted for LSBC awards will go on to fulfil their dreams.”
And although he was unable to attend the Awards, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families the Right Honourable Ed Balls MP said:
“I am really pleased to endorse the London Schools and the Black Child Academic Achievement Awards this year. Black students have been making enormous progress over the last few years at all levels and its important we recognise this. The attainment gap is closing and this is down to the hard work and dedication of pupils and staff in the capital and elsewhere in the country. I’m happy to see the LSBC Awards are reflecting that. There is of course more work to do to ensure that every child has an equal chance of doing well at school, but it is right occasionally to pause and celebrate what young people have already achieved.”