East London schools pitch their ideas for perfect Olympic Park events

Students from schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets pitched their plans for Stratford’s Olympic Park following the 2012 Games to an X-Factor style panel of judges today.

St Paul’s Way Trust school in Mile End and Cardinal Pole Catholic school in Homerton sent a group each to tell Communities minister Bob Neil, John Burton, director of Westfield Stratford City and other panel members about their plans.

Representing their host boroughs, they have been thinking since last September of community events to be held in the Olympic Park and the Westfield shopping centre.

They were also competing against Forest Gate school in Newham and Lammas school and sports college in Waltham Forest to have their idea crowned as the best at the Make it our Future event in Fleet Street.

St Paul’s group of five pupils pitched a youth employment project and jobs fair, designed to let young people try out different jobs from being a photographer to a cake decorator.

Rima Yasmin, 14, of St Paul’s Way, said: “We think we could put the fair on every year if it was popular.”

Meghan Williams, the school’s head of citizenship, said: “It’s massively increased their confidence and it’s helped them to work in groups and listen to each other.”

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Employment is clearly a concern for schoolchildren in east London, because Hackney’s representatives suggested a similar project, a week-long careers festival to include food stalls and fashion stands from east London designers.

Esther Areoye, 13, of Cardinal Pole, said: “I think young people would really enjoy it and no-one would be left out.”

Volunteers from Westfield and the Olympic Park Legacy Company had helped the groups to develop their projects with Lammas School’s idea of a two-day community festival eventually being chosen as the best idea.

Mr Burton said Westfield was focused on helping unemployed people in the host boroughs access the 8,500 jobs to be created around the retail development.

He said where qualifications didn’t match, the company’s retail academy could help improve skill levels.

MP Bob Neil said: “The children clearly thought hard about some of these issues like community cohesion, unemployment and crime.

“If we’re going to have a successful legacy, we will need the help of young people.”

He remained tight-lipped on what decision his department – for communities and local government - will be making regarding the Olympic Stadium after the OPLC recommended West Ham to take it over last Friday.

He said a decision should be promptly made following the return from the Parliamentary recess on February 28, once all parties had given it proper consideration.