A mentoring scheme for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and an affordable tutoring enterprise designed for poorer pupils have been awarded £10,000 each after winning Teach First’s Innovation Award.
The Girls’ Network has been set-up by two former Teach First teachers, Charlotte Young and Becca Dean, and aims to connect disadvantaged girls aged 14 to 19 with successful business women to help them build networks and raise aspiration and confidence.
Meanwhile, Tutors United, set-up by 19-year-old Joel Davis, provides affordable tutoring by university students from poor backgrounds to disadvantaged or migrant primary pupils.
The Innovation Award is open to anyone with an idea that might help to change society and five finalists made pitches to a panel of educationalists and business leaders earlier this month.
As well as winning £20,000 between them, the enterprises also each get a fixed-term salaried position with Teach First and a year’s worth of mentoring and expert support to help develop their ideas.
Teach First is a charity that trains and places outstanding graduates as teachers in schools within some of the country’s most disadvantaged areas in a bid to help them close the attainment gap.
Currently, just over a third of students receiving free school meals get five GCSEs graded A* to C including English and maths, compared to just over two-thirds of all other pupils.
The Girls’ Network was set-up to tackle the “significant barriers” that young girls from lower socio-economic backgrounds face.
Ms Young, who is a Teach First ambassador, explained: “Time and time again, girls are simply not getting the same chances in life as boys – and for young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, the barriers to their success are even greater.
“The demand for organisations like The Girls’ Network is massive, but until now, we have been unable to meet this need. Teach First’s Innovation Award will provide us with the freedom to expand and give more girls the chances in life that they deserve.”
Ms Dean, also a Teach First ambassador, added: “This is not about political correctness, it is about not wanting to waste talent and giving young girls the self-belief and opportunities that they are fully entitled to.”
The award for Tutors United follows a recent report from The Sutton Trust, which found that
31 per cent of well-off pupils receive private tuition to some extent, compared to 15 per cent of disadvantaged children.
Mr Davis said: “I want Tutors United to offer young people the skills and opportunities that all of them deserve by helping to provide primary pupils with a level playing field by the time they reach secondary school, while giving the tutors valuable work experience during university.”
Teach First chief executive Brett Wigdortz said: “It’s really exciting that some of the country’s brightest and most ambitious young entrepreneurs, who could be taking their skills into industry, are dedicating themselves to tackling a problem as important as educational inequality.”
For further information on the five finalists, visit www.teachfirst.org.uk/what-we-do/partner-those-who-share-our-vision/driving-innovation/innovation-award-2013 CAPTION: Enterprising: Charlie Young (left) and Becca Dean (right) of The Girls’ Network celebrate their Innovation Award win alongside Joel Davis of Tutors United