Teenagers get stand-up help with interviews

Hannah Naylor-Skeats
Hannah Naylor-Skeats

Teenagers are preparing for the job market with the help of a stand-up comedian.

A-level students at St Thomas More RC Academy are being coached in presentation and interview skills by Dr Ray Lowry who has enjoyed careers spanning from dentistry to comedy.

It is hoped that the unusual move by the North Shields school will give sixth formers a competitive edge when they enter the job market.

It is the second year the 62-year-old who has had varied careers as a doctor, dentist, gag writer for the Two Ronnies and Kenneth Williams and more recently public speaker, author, stand-up comedian and presentation coach, has worked with the 17 and 18 year olds.

Early signs are that Dr Lowry’s intervention have been promising, with last year’s school leavers all finding employment.

During the weekly voluntary sessions, a combination of role play, rehearsals and one-to-one interviews are used to help prepare for interviews.

Teacher Katy Bollado, who dreamt up scheme said: “Our pupils are going into a crowded marketplace. What we are doing is being proactive.”

Head of Sixth Form Mark Henderson said: “Schools have always focused on reducing their NEET (not in education, employment or training) percentage so I would be surprised if others aren’t doing something. I think this programme is quite unique.”

Dr Lowry, who lives in Tynemouth, said: “There has been an attitude of throwing people in at the deep end and letting them sink or swim.

“But if you don’t teach today’s youngsters how to swim then they won’t know what to do.

“They need to know how to respond to searching questions and be able to answer them back with confidence.

“We are not turning these students into something they are not or giving them artificial skills. It is about developing the skills they already have within them and allowing them to give a better account of themselves.”