Ex-top Treasury official gives pupils career advice

Lord Terry Burns during his speech at a special assembly for King Edward VI School Year 12 students.
Lord Terry Burns during his speech at a special assembly for King Edward VI School Year 12 students.

A member of the House of Lords visited Morpeth’s high school to give students an insight into high-level politics and economics.

During a special assembly for Year 12 students at King Edward VI School, Lord Terry Burns also offered them some advice about how to plan for and enjoy a successful career in their chosen field.

Until earlier this year, he was chairman of Santander UK and he has also served as chairman of Marks and Spencer, the National Lottery Commission and The Royal Academy of Music.

He remains the chairman of Channel 4 and he was an independent adviser to the Secretary of State for the BBC Charter review between 2004 and 2006.

For much of his career, Lord Burns served as one of the leading civil servants at the heart of Whitehall, advising no less than six Chancellors of the Exchequer as the chief economic advisor to the Treasury, head of the Government Economic Service and permanent secretary to the Treasury.

Addressing the students, he emphasised the importance of finding a job that interests them and for which they have an aptitude and then working hard at it and taking hold of any, and all, opportunities which come their way.

He illustrated this with examples from his own career pathway, as he went from humble beginnings as the son of a miner in County Durham to becoming chairman of some of the UK’s best-known businesses and organisations.

Afterwards, Lord Burns stayed to answer questions from pupils studying A-Levels in politics and economics.

They asked him for his views on subjects such as bankers’ bonuses, the current state of the economy and whether politicians should be given a pay rise.

One of the students, Annie Jessop, said: “Lord Burns was incredibly informative and he was very humble considering all the things he has achieved.

“It was interesting to hear about the economy from the perspective of someone who has been so directly involved with it.”

The visit was arranged through Speakers for Schools – a UK charity which provides state secondary schools and colleges with talks from a range of industry leading professionals, public figures and academics, free of charge.