Bede's Prefects: Marco introduces the 2013 Prefect Programme

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Good morning everybody. As I hope many of you know by now my name is Marco Iurza. I'm from Naples in Italy, a much different place from Upper Dicker.

Neapolitans have a weird philosophy of life, which puts thriving and getting by above respect towards rules. This can be seen in day-to-day life just by looking at people moving from A to B.

In Naples, traffic lights are seen as obstacles that delay drivers, while parking in Naples is very different: people feel that as long as they find a place where their car fits, whether it is on a pavement or in the middle of a road, they are allowed to park.

Life is rather different in the UK, and I have had to adapt; there are rules to follow, and in my time at Bede's I have come to appreciate that. I have come a long way from my time in Naples to spending the last five years at Bede's, getting my GCSEs, and now applying for a UK university.  My parents always encouraged me to travel and see the world and, when I turned 9, they sent me to summer school to learn English.

When I arrived in Upper Dicker in July 2005 it was the first time I had been to a different country on my own and, even though I couldn't speak any English I found myself loving the fact that I was far from home and somehow independent.

I liked the place so much that I came to the Bede's Summer School for 5 years in a row and then decided to come study here as a full time boarder.

I joined Bede's in Year 9, still not being able to speak too much English and regretting leaving the nice Italian food and weather behind. It was my first time in a boarding school and I didn't really know what was going on in the first few weeks but somehow I found myself doing the football trials and only a couple of months later losing 14-0 against Eton with the mighty under 14 C's.

The UK education system is very different from the Italian one and I wasn't expecting to have to pick the subjects that would shape my future right from Year 10. Having to work for GCSEs helped me mature and become more organised and much of this is thanks to the tutors and teachers I've had as they guided me through my years here.

I have described my personal journey to you to let you know that I understand what it feels like to be new and not knowing what is going on. I've been through every year at this school and the students that thrive are always the ones that get involved with activities and make full use of the diversity of cultures that this school benefits from.

I feel that being able to be around people from all over the world and see different aspects of life from their point of view is the best thing about Bede's. 

Each activity at this school can add something to our personalities and make us more rounded individuals, better prepared to tackle the out-of-school world. Being able to play for a sports team, or being part of the model united nations or even the house council can teach us discipline, teamwork and what is happening in the world around us as well as helping us meet new people. However, we appreciate not everyone will always be happy with choosing one of the myriad of activities currently available.

The prefect team and I have realised some of you may want to use your initiative to create your own activity. As a result we aim to give all students the chance to do so: whether you're a First Year, Lower Fifth, Upper Fifth or a Sixth Former, you'll be able to run an activity, book a slot in assembly to advertise a cause or to organise school-wide charity events.

Having visited some universities at the end of last term I really warmed to the idea of student unions and societies. I believe we should have societies in school so that students can build their own extra-academic curriculum and get ready for university life where you will be joining societies. 

Some of you may still be wondering who the school prefects are and what we actually do. We are here to represent all of you, voice your opinion and improve the day-to-day workings of the school. There are 25 of us, ready to help you if you're feeling a bit lost or if you have any problems.

Tracy, James and I, and our team of School Prefects, provide a bridge between the student body and the teachers, and can help turn any constructive feedback you may have into a permanent change to improve the Bede's experience.

These changes have to originate from you: the Bede's school council is very student based and it allows all students to raise issues in their house and have them discussed in sub-committees and the school council.

The five main areas in the school council are Academic, food, co-curricular & social, pastoral and Spiritual, service & community.

The first sub-committee is the Academic. This concerns anything to do with your learning. We want to ensure that everyone at this school can achieve the highest grades possible and Mr Tuson, who will be chairing the committees alongside Annabel and Ben, needs to know how he can improve your learning experience.

The second committee, and the most popular one is the Food sub-committee. It is there that you have the chance to fight for better food, bigger portions, more meat or simply Jay's dream of thicker custard. The food now is significantly better than it was four years ago and I'm sure this year the food committee will keep coming up with suggestions to improve the food.

The prefects in charge are George, Seb and Sammy, and the staff members are Mr Frame and Holroyd Howe, the school's catering company.

The third committee is Co-Curricular and Social. This is about activities and events in school. Here you can discuss any problems you have with activities and sports, for example you can ask for a new sports team or league, and you can talk about social events that will happen in school. The committee is chaired by Ms Woollett, Alicia and Ali.

The fourth committee is Pastoral. This is chaired by our Assistant Child Protection Officer Ms Belhriti and will discuss issues like the House system, safeguarding, health and safety, tutoring, anti-bullying and school rules. The prefects in charge of the pastoral committee are Odin and Zoe.

The Spiritual, Service & Community sub-committee seeks to monitor, evaluate and find ways to proactively promote the quality of pupils' personal development in the areas of their Spiritual, Service and Community mindset and involvement. 

This new committee will be chaired by the Reverend Buckler, Caterina and Jay. 

You will hear more about these committees next week. The first meetings are on Wednesday and the school prefects in charge will talk to you about the issues raised.

I am delighted to have the chance to work with Tracy, James and our team of school prefects to make the biggest impact we can in our final year.