Meet Errol Lawson, a former street gang member turned pastor, author, motivational speaker and now Academy Ambassador Group (AAG) chair at the North Birmingham Academy.
Tell us a little bit about you
I’m an author of three books. I’m a motivational speaker and a coach for young people, teachers as well as entrepreneurs who are starting out in business and trying to plot their way forward.
What’s your link with the North Birmingham Academy?
In the last six years or so I’ve actually been going into NBA to deliver workshops for students around exam preparation, independent learning and leadership training. When Phil Lloyd [NBA head] joined the academy he came in with an ethos and a philosophy based around positivity, and he asked me at our first meeting whether I would be interested in joining the AAG as community leader because of my passion for the academy. It was actually at our first AAG meeting in October 2016 when we were short of a chairperson and the request was put out there.
What is the strength of the AAG model?
We meet every two to three months, and generally I really like this structure. I’m a governor at a couple of schools in Birmingham and I like the AAG structure because community leaders and parent leaders can focus on what matters to them most, and you have professionals looking after the teaching and learning side which from my experience is really helpful.
What are your aspirations for your AAG?
Ultimately we want to improve the life chances of the young people who attend our academy. Through our involvement, through our creativity, through our inventiveness we want to come up with different ways to foster an inspiring environment and an aspirational place that kids can come to.
Ours isn’t an easy community. There are challenges around getting parents into the academy, but we want to change its image, we want to change its perception in the community, and be seen as a place of light and a beacon of hope and life in the community.
“Ultimately we want to improve the life chances of the young people who attend our academy”
What do you consider to be the main strengths of NBA?
I think the main strength is that we have a good leader [Phil Lloyd]. A leader that is passionate about giving kids a chance, a leader that understands the power of environment and culture and how we can shape it. We are the architects of that culture, and [Phil] is an open, down to earth person. He’s easy to connect with.
We also have some parents who are really involved with the academy who give up their time to connect with other parents and they’re just really passionate about seeing their academy succeed.