Back To School: New Pencil Cases and New Policies

Franklin Scholars staff member Lucy Anderson contemplates the new school year, the impacts of austerity on schools, and leaked Government plans for the education sector.

As pupils around the country are dusting off their school uniforms, grappling with new timetables and admiring their new pencil cases, we are reflecting on our summer and considering the year ahead.

This summer, we were pleased to host three fantastic young women as interns in our office. The interns supported staff in various capacities, including events, outreach and preparations for the next academic year. We were incredibly impressed with their positive and dedicated attitudes, as they all made valuable contributions to the organisation. We particularly appreciated their insightful contributions at our scale accelerator workshops, as Lizabeth brought expertise from the American education system and Divine and Radvile contributed their experience as ex-Franklin Scholars. If you would like to find out more about their experiences and insights, you can read their thought-provoking blog posts by following the links.

Lucy, Divine and Radvile at the Spring Impact Scale Accelerator Workshop

Lucy, Divine and Radvile at the Spring Impact Scale Accelerator Workshop

Looking to the year ahead, this week saw the launch of the 2019/20 programme, with recruitment and training beginning for the new cohorts of Franklin Scholars across the country. At the same time, we have been considering the possible implications of the recently leaked government document detailing a number of funding changes and policies for schools.

The past nine years of austerity has been felt across the education system, with some schools reporting such dire levels of funding that they are closing school early on a Friday or turning to parents for donations. Some headteachers have even taken matters into their own hands, for example our very own trustee Evelyn Forde, Headteacher of Copthall, is climbing Mount Snowdon to raise money for the school (donate to the cause here).

However, there is an ongoing discrepancy in regard to school funding. As teachers are climbing mountains to raise funds to buy vital school equipment, numerous politicians (including recent Prime Minister Theresa May) continue to assert that more money than ever before is going to schools. Although this is factually correct, it is also misleading. The level of UK education spending has indeed risen significantly over time, but it has not kept up with inflation or with the rising numbers of students in full-time education. As a result, despite record amounts of money going to schools, the funding per student has decreased by 4-8% (according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies).

This means that more money needs to go to schools, and this has been outlined in the leaked Tory plan. Namely, £14bn by 2022/23 has been pledged, with £2.6bn in the first year. The Institute of Fiscal Studies suggested that this kind of cash injection will take the funding status back to the state in 2009/10, so it is an improvement, but arguably still not enough. Alongside more funding for pupils, the proposal also outlines a raise in teacher starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022, which has widely been met with approval.

Aside from funding, the DfE paper also includes new, tougher behavioural guidelines. The proposed reform places emphasis on allowing teachers to “use reasonable force” against unruly pupils. School staff are already permitted to “use reasonable force” to “control pupils or to restrain them” (see the DfE’s current guidelines on the use of reasonable force). However, the new guidelines seem to suggest that staff will now be supported to use “reasonable force” in more situations, including when confiscating mobile phones and to enforce same-day detentions. This has been widely criticised as dangerous, due to ambiguity around what “reasonable force” means. Mary Bousted, Joint Secretary of the National Education Union, said, “We don’t want teachers exercising reasonable force, we want well-disciplined schools which are well funded.” Similarly, the DfE has been accused of missing the mark with the proposal to reduce the number of teaching assistants.

“We don’t want teachers exercising reasonable force, we want well-disciplined schools which are well funded.” - Mary Bousted, Joint Secretary of the National Education Union

It is clear that many changes are on the horizon for the UK education system. Ultimately, we hope that, whether this particular proposal comes to fruition or not, the wellbeing of the pupils is not overlooked. Meanwhile, we are looking forward to an action-packed year of training, workshops and events as we support more secondary pupils than ever with their transition to secondary school.

Find out more about the issues discussed in this blog post: Institute for Fiscal Studies, The Independent, The Guardian

Journeying down Franklin Scholars Road

Divine - a 2017/18 Franklin Scholar and Deputy Head Girl during the 2018/19 school year - reflects back on her time with us as a Franklin Scholar. Divine has been part of the team for a three-week period as a Summer Programme Intern, helping us with programme outreach, inputting on our scale strategy, and participating in our facilitator training day!

9:00 in the morning. It’s the usual Thursday assembly. I amble into the hall thinking it would just be another assembly by my head of year, but then I notice something on the large projector – it’s a crest. My interest is aroused. “What’s that?” I wonder to myself. Little did I know that this assembly would premier a new stage in my life where I was just not working with teachers in school, but also external organisations. We’re talked through the premise of the programme by a representative from the organisation. “I need to do this”, I thought and quickly (although I wasn’t supposed to) bring out my phone to take down the link for the application.

 “This is such a good opportunity…Finally, here’s my chance.”

* *

Franklin Scholars allowed me to have a lot of firsts; my first application, my first interview, the first time I was given some form of responsibility over someone junior to me and now my first ever “job” in an adult environment.

As a 14-year-old, I was not really given the role in a more mature capacity that I’d been seeking for some time. When I went home to research more on the organisation, I must say it’s an understatement to say that I was intrigued – I was almost mesmerised. That same day I quickly filled out my *first ever* application passionately with the thought of taking a “little” year 7 under my wing.

Oh, how I thought it would be so easy.

First the interview:

“Hi, you must be Divine. Nice to meet you”

“Nice to meet you too. I’m Divine”

Facepalm. Although it probably shouldn’t have, that slightly embarrassing moment threw me off a bit and made heat quickly rush to my cheeks. This was my first interview, so I thought I’d brutally messed it up. But…I really hadn’t. The interview went smoothly (save for a little bit of stuttering from my end.) I truly believe that regardless of whether or not I had been successful in becoming a Franklin Scholar this interview would have been immensely useful as I was able to reflect and refine my interview skills for the future. In my next interview for the position of head girl in my school, whilst it was the first interview for many of my competitors, having had that experience already made me more confident, which I believe contributed to me landing the role.

Although that experience would have been valuable enough itself, I was in fact successful in becoming a Franklin Scholar.

The training sessions really opened my mind beyond a premise I had ever thought of before; the idea of learning specific methods of speaking and mentoring other people and the models they were based off of was fascinating to me. The opportunity of putting them into practice as well was the best part as it felt significantly different to the typical structure of school where we just learn and rarely practically apply our knowledge.

The group of year 7s in my school were very dissimilar to the timid little year 7s I was expecting: they were loud, boisterous and frankly a little bit too brazen. This was really the opposite of the challenge I was expecting; I thought I’d be trying to bring them out of their shell but I was in actuality going to have to help them reign it in a little bit and teach them to refine their actions and words.

I’ll admit it was hard. Some of my fellow mentors gave up. But I stayed.

As a Franklin Scholar I was a friend, a teacher, a shoulder to cry on (my mentee and I still hold that close relationship) but most of all I was a student – and not in the traditional sense.

As a Franklin Scholar I was a friend, a teacher, a shoulder to cry on (my mentee and I still hold that close relationship) but most of all I was a student – and not in the traditional sense. I learned how to truly listen and respond accordingly to someone who was relying on me. They don’t teach that in lessons.

 As Benjamin Franklin once said “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”; by investing my time learn how to and become a Franklin Scholar, the interest was (and still is) beyond what I initially thought. The skills. The relationships. The experiences.

 Franklin Scholars is a chapter in my life I’ll never forget – and rightfully so.

Back in the office and part of the team: reflections from a former Franklin Scholar

Radvile Barbarskaite - a 2013/14 Franklin Scholar from Langdon Academy and current student at King’s College London - reflects on her time as a Summer Programme Intern with Franklin Scholars. Radvile has been part of the team for a three-week period, helping us with programme outreach, inputting on our scale strategy, and participating in our facilitator training day!

Six years on from my time as a mentor on the Franklin Scholars programme, I have found myself working as a volunteer for a short internship in the office of this exciting enterprise. This opportunity has made me reminisce about my experience and what I learned during the course of the programme that I still implement in my life today.

There was something very special about being part of a group of young people that were entrusted with the social and academic development of their younger peers.

Being part of the cohort that Franklin Scholars piloted with, meant that a lot of things were different during my time. Looking at how far the organisation has developed, and the resources that they have created means that I did not reap the full benefits of what is available to students now. Still, there was something very special about being part of a group of young people that were entrusted with the social and academic development of their younger peers. The secondary school I attended was extremely big and it was not very often that you would interact with different year groups or even see them around the school grounds. What the programme did, was bridge this gap and help create close bonds which would go on to be extremely helpful to the mentees and their navigation of the school that we, as mentors, had come to be comfortable with. It was obvious from the beginning that this provided comfort to the younger students, as they were able to ask us questions without feeling ridiculed for it. In turn, this created a sense of responsibility in the older students and it was a special feeling knowing that you had contributed to making their first year at secondary school just that bit more pleasant.

Since my time at Franklin Scholars I have learnt to be even more compassionate and understanding, and I developed the skills to be able to communicate with people of different age groups in the correct manner. These are skills that will always be necessary no matter what the next stage in life is for me. Further on from this, I hope to gain even more skills from working in the voluntary position at the Franklin Scholars office and develop the transferable skills that will be beneficial when thinking of opportunities after university.

It is a great feeling to be back at a company that I had much respect for. I love everything that Franklin Scholars stands for and this is coming from a former Franklin Scholar who did not have even half of the resources the programme has now. That in itself describes the amazing impact that the experience has had!

Having had the opportunity to understand more about the programme, I’ve understood that Franklin Scholars continues to be run by a dedicated team who are passionate about the development of young people and this translates into the experiences and resources that have been developed to aid this. Even though my time here is short, I am excited for the future of this company and hope to see more young people benefit in the same way that I did.

Franklin Scholars is now a Volunteering Approved Activity Provider for The Duke of Edinburgh's Awards!

We are thrilled to announce that the Franklin Scholars beacon programme is now approved for the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Volunteering section! While completing the DofE programme with Franklin Scholars, young people will develop new skills, expand their knowledge, become more confident in working with new people, make new friends and be part of a cohort of Franklin Scholars in your school. In addition, the experiences that Franklin Scholars gain could be useful for UCAS personal statements and National Records of Achievement.

IMG_4832 (1).jpg

Which opportunities are available to DofE participants?

The DofE volunteering opportunity is available to select students in secondary schools that partner with us on the Franklin Scholars year-long beacon programme. In each school, we will recruit a cohort of 15 or 30 Franklin Scholars, who will volunteer as peer mentors (approximately 1 hour per week) for the duration of the school year, as part of the beacon programme. Depending on the age of the young person, our programme can be used towards the DofE Bronze (students aged 14+), Silver (aged 15+), and Gold (aged 16+) Awards.

Getting started

Interested in working with Franklin Scholars as part of your volunteering journey? The next steps are a guide on how to get started:

  1. Check whether your school is a Franklin Scholars partner school! The Franklin Scholars beacon programme is available only to our partner schools. Interested in signing up? Contact us!

  2. Once your school is partnered with Franklin Scholars, students can apply to be a Franklin Scholar! Franklin Scholars are recruited at the start of the school year in each of the schools that we work with.

  3. Students should speak to their DofE Leader or visit the DofE website (

  4. Students complete the Franklin Scholars programme! Students should remember to record their activities on eDofE (DofE’s online record keeping system) and ask their Franklin Scholars contact or in-school Programme Leader to sign off on volunteering hours.

Changing Isolation Into Integration

The Franklin Scholars staff recently engaged in a storytelling workshop. As part of the workshop, the topic of mental health and the impact of peer mentoring was brought to light. Following this, Lizabeth - a Programme Intern with Franklin Scholars - has reflected on this topic.

We are often drawn to the response of saying “I’m fine” when asked about our hardships. It seems to be an automatic reply because we never want to be seen as vulnerable or weak. It feels as if we need to be “on” all the time. Why burden someone else with our problems when they’ve got troubles of their own to deal with? “Maybe if I wear enough makeup, I’ll look pretty. Maybe if I just give in to peer pressure, I’ll be cool. Maybe if I laugh with them, they’ll no longer laugh at me.” These thoughts run through the minds of young pupils everyday but to the blind and naked eye, they go unnoticed. It is easy to put on a facade to mask the scars underneath. Everyone has their own story; everyone should be given the opportunity and space to share it

Maybe if I wear enough makeup, I’ll look pretty. Maybe if I just give in to peer pressure, I’ll be cool. Maybe if I laugh with them, they’ll no longer laugh at me.

It is no secret that going through adolescence can be tough on a pupil. Going through the transition from Primary to Secondary School and adolescence at the same time can be detrimental to a students’ social and emotional growth. They are faced with social pressures, new feelings, status changes and internal turmoil. Some pupils struggle with mental health and they, more often than not, don’t have an outlet to talk about their thoughts. This is because mental health is rarely discussed in everyday conversations. It can be hard and uncomfortable to openly talk about about something so personal. It isolates children and teenagers from their peers because they are made to think that something is “wrong” with them; that they need to be “fixed.” 

Statistics from the Independent find that rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the last 25 years. The number of children and young people turning up in A&E with a psychiatric condition has more than doubled since 2009 (Bedell, 2016). This could be due to factors like the increase in technological advancement, the pressure to succeed in school, peer pressure, bullying, or outside influences. In 2016, almost all (93%) of teachers - who see their students just as much as parents do (sometimes even more if the student has full attendance) - reported that they have witnessed increased rates of mental illness among children and teenagers.

The peer mentoring programme here at Franklin Scholars has academic elements, such as literacy or numeracy, but focuses on social and emotional growth through social interactions, games, and guided sessions. Our programme introduces a way for pupils to express themselves as individuals and confide in someone else whom they can relate to, and vise versa, about their lives. Our mentors and mentees build a bond and relationships much more powerful than any classroom because they spend time with someone that they would not usually choose to spend time with. These sessions are very structured, which gives them more freedom to diverge from the activities and talk; which ultimately builds the friendship. 

Schools often choose to refer mentees who may be vulnerable to dips in academic progress and self confidence. Some may be disadvantaged in their circumstances and struggle to settle and adapt to new and changing environments. We incorporated this into our Theory of Change and, through our mentoring programme, mentees develop a range of social and emotional skills (particularly self-worth) which help them to better deal with different situations and tackle challenges. Mentors are specifically chosen because they have the skills needed to assist their mentee.

People change people through the smallest of actions; by the end of our programme, mentors have a better sense of leadership and responsibility. They feel inclined to take part in social action in the future because they have become role models for their mentees. The advocacy project shares that “Mentors often experience increased levels of empowerment, improved self-esteem, an increase in confidence and a renewed ability to cope with their own mental health.” Both parties in this relationship come out a different person than before. 

As one of our mentors, Yursa (Copthall Primary School), pointed out, “helping people doesn’t always mean giving advice. Sometimes, it’s just about listening.” You’d be amazed at how much someone opens up once you start asking the right questions and cultivate an environment where sharing is normal. Here at Franklin Scholars, we design our programmes to let pupils know that it’s okay not to be okay. We give them the opportunity to share with someone that they can trust and relate to. It is finally time to stop saying “I’m fine” and start saying “I will be.”

Retrieved from

Retrieved from

Franklin Scholars supports the Hastings Maths Challenge!

This month, Franklin Scholars is pleased to be supporting the Hastings Opportunity Area Maths Challenge! For this challenge, which is designed to create a fun way of engaging children and young people with maths, our staff developed the school resources for a ‘Maths Marathon’.

The Maths Marathon is free for every primary school in Hastings and St Leonards, and is taking place from July 8th to July 11th. In each school, pupils from all year groups will contribute to see how far the school can collectively run (can they all collectively run to Rome? What about Moscow?). As part of the Marathon, a number of maths-based challenges will be applied to analysing distances run, and schools will be able to compete with each other. The school packs and lesson plans can be found on the Hastings Opportunity Area website. More information on the Maths Challenge can be found here.

Our ability to provide expertise for this Maths Challenge, is thanks to our support from Nesta’s Maths Mission. With support from Nesta, we have deepened the team’s expertise in maths, and developed a numeracy strand within our Beacon Franklin Scholars programme. This programme pairs peer mentoring with academic support, so that students develop not just important social and emotional skills but also feel more confident in their mastery of number. Thanks to Nesta, we have been able to successfully pilot the programme and are expanding to new schools next year. We have also been able to share some of our resources with parents to use at home with their children, such as during last month’s Maths Week London.

Good luck to all of the participants in the Hastings Math Challenge! We look forward to seeing how far you can run!

Being the Change: The Meaning Behind Our Annual Celebration Ceremony

On the 21st of June, our Annual Celebration Ceremony took place at Wesley’s Chapel and was attended by over 300 pupils; our largest ceremony to date! This was the first year that we had both Franklin (Y10) and Junior Scholars (Y7) attend, and Scholars came from 10 schools from around the country. Pupils from Discovery Academy, Harris Academy Peckham, Harris Academy Beckenham, Goresbrook School, Copthall School, The Hurlingham Academy, Langdon Academy, Carshalton Boys Sports College, Woodbridge High School and Weavers Academy arrived with bright eyes and enthusiasm as they awaited such a prestigious event. As in years past, we used this ceremony to celebrate outstanding dedication, generosity and brilliance, which the Franklin and Junior Scholars have shown in their support of one another in their schools. Each pupil was awarded a certificate for their academic and personal achievements in either Adventure, Balance, Collaboration and Discipline, based on the Franklin Scholars’ ABCD shield of social and emotional skills and habits.

Georgia Brown kicked off the event by introducing one of our keynote speakers from Skaped and Campaign Bootcamp, Sandy Abdelrahman. She gave a compelling and thought-provoking speech that engaged our pupils in a world much bigger than any classroom. Sandy spoke about the idea that this generation can make a difference in social injustices and issues, should they choose to be the change. Without a doubt, we are confident that our Scholars will make their footprint in the future, if not already.

We also heard from Richard Wald, a lawyer from 39 Essex Chambers and Speakers for Schools, about his journey becoming a lawyer. He spoke about how anyone can become a lawyer with hard work and resilience, and students eagerly asked questions about how they could also join the profession.

Helping people doesn’t always mean giving advice, sometimes it’s just about listening.
— Yursa, Copthall School

One of the highlights of the Ceremony was hearing from the Scholars themselves. Cathy and Aliya from Harris Academy Peckham were one of the six pupils who shared their experience with the programme. Cathy said “When I joined [Harris Academy Peckham] I decided not to make any friends. Moving to secondary school was the worst thing ever. Meeting Aliya was the best thing ever. I have learnt a lot from Aliya, especially what it’s like to be in an older year group and moving up in the school.” It was moving to hear how Franklin Scholars helped Cathy expand her horizons and social circle, as well as thrive in a new environment.

Another one of our Franklin Scholars, Yursa, (Copthall School) said, “helping people doesn’t always mean giving advice, sometimes it’s just about listening.” This relates to our CEO, Kim Reuter’s, ending quote “If you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in the same room as a mosquito.” There is always a difference we can make in the world, whether it be through mentoring or a simple “hello” as you pass someone on the street. This brings the meaning of our programme full circle and made for the perfect ending to our Celebration Ceremony.

Character and resilience are as important as academic achievement

Damien Hinds, the education secretary, recently announced his vision for Five Foundations for Building Character: sport, creativity, performing, volunteering & membership and the world of work.

I have heard repeatedly from teachers, parents and young people themselves about the areas of activity that will help develop character and resilience. They combine elements that will stretch and challenge and will help young people think, develop and grow and which will enhance their self-esteem and their confidence.
— Damien Hinds

The Franklin Scholars programme fits neatly into the volunteering & membership category, as this is defined as any programme that, ‘brings together teams for practical action in the service of others or groups.’ At the start of the year, all of our Franklin Scholars commit to a year of voluntary support for a vulnerable younger pupil in their school. As well as their weekly commitment of an hour to their mentee, they also engage in social action workshops. In these workshops, they are required to work together to find wide-scale, realistic solutions to some of society’s most prevalent problems, including how to engage more young people to vote and how to reduce school waste.


Additionally, although we do not take our Franklin Scholars into the workplace, we do recruit them through a two-stage recruitment process involving an online application and short face-to-face interview. For most of our participants, this will be their first experience of an interview process and we provide personalised feedback to all of our applicants, whether they are successful or not. Having this experience and feedback is a valued first step in preparing them for the world of work.

Alongside his work, Mr Hinds has recommended that pupils also learn about the importance of positive personal attributes – such as perseverance, self-respect, self-worth, honesty, courage, kindness, generosity, trustworthiness and a sense of justice - as part of the new Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum. Many of the key skills he highlighted, such as perseverance, self-worth and courage, are the skills that form our ABCD shield, the framework upon which the entire programme is based, meaning that our programme directly aligns with the skills that the education secretary is advocating.

The Franklin Scholars ABCD shield

The Franklin Scholars ABCD shield

At Franklin Scholars, we have always believed that the development of softer skills is as important as academic attainment, so we are delighted to continue to deliver a programme that balances these two elements. All of our participants engage in group skills-building activities, 1:1 academic tutoring and 1:1 coaching in our weekly one hour sessions and it is the combination of these activities that leads to the positive benefits we see for both our older and younger participants.

How Franklin Scholars aligns with the new proposed Ofsted framework

At the beginning of 2019, Ofsted announced a new inspection framework. Among the many changes, the framework proposed a shift from judging ‘teaching, learning and assessment’ and ‘outcomes’ separately: they will now be considered as part of a broader view on the quality of education that pupils receive. Additionally, there will be a greater focus on the personal development of the pupils, as ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ will be assessed separately.

Consultation on the education inspection framework 2019

Consultation on the education inspection framework 2019

The framework has been designed to alleviate prevalent problems in our education system: it aims to help reduce unnecessary teacher workload, encourage a move from ‘teaching to the test’ and return the focus on the real substance of education. However, the change means that schools will now be held accountable for the personal development of their pupils, including nurturing pupils’ character and the development of their social and emotional skills.

At Franklin Scholars, our programme is based on our ABCD Shield of 24 valuable and malleable skills. This is the framework through which we train our Franklin Scholars, design our resources, and evaluate our work. It is also the framework of skills which our Franklin Scholars use to mentor and support their mentee – the core element of our programme. We assess our participants on the development of the skills and consistently find that particularly strong progress in levels of resilience, leadership, perseverance, confidence and communication skills.

Example of the improvement in the skills development of Franklin Scholars, based on self-report.

Example of the improvement in the skills development of Franklin Scholars, based on self-report.

We are delighted that our programme aligns so closely to the new Ofsted framework. It means that we will now have a two-fold benefit for our partner schools: helping the pupils to develop vital life skills and helping the school to achieve the new Ofsted personal development requirements. Additionally, those working in education will be only too familiar with how it only takes a small group to spread a trend. Although we only work with cohorts of 30 or 60, we often find that our Franklin Scholars use their new-found skills around school, in class and with their peers, meaning a permeation into the school culture leading to a whole-school benefit. We are, therefore, greatly looking forward to the 2019/20 academic year and for the enhanced role we will play in the education system.

Franklin Scholars selected for the Spring Impact Scale Accelerator!

We are excited to announce that Franklin Scholars has been picked as one of just seven organisations to participate in the 2019 Spring Impact Scale Accelerator! Supported by National Lottery Funding, the Scale Accelerator programme helps mission-driven organisations gain vital support, skills and perspective to scale up their impact and change more lives.

Over the next year, we will benefit from an intensive programme of support, using Spring Impact’s five-stage replication process. This will improve our strategic planning and help us grow our programmes to more schools over the next few years, through the development of a clear action plan for scale.

Other members of the 2019 Cohort, who will work with us (and alongside us) through the Scale Accelerator programme, include:

The 2019 Cohort. Photo courtesy of Spring Impact and Elyse Marks.

The 2019 Cohort. Photo courtesy of Spring Impact and Elyse Marks.

  • Birth and Beyond Community Supporters (BBCS) – a programme supporting new and expectant mums facing challenges and social isolation run by National Childbirth Trust (NCT)

  • CoachBright – a national social mobility organisation working in schools and universities to help disadvantaged young people improve their grades, confidence and independence

  • Core Arts – a leading mental health creative education centre in London

  • Evolve – a social enterprise that is pioneering ways to improve children’s life outcomes

  • EQUIP  – a team enabling quality improvement for under-pressure GPs in Tower Hamlets

  • Tide – a social movement to further the rights and voices of carers of people with dementia. It works to give carers a voice and the tools they need to transform society.

More information about Spring Impact and the Scale Accelerator can be found on the Spring Impact website.

Franklin Scholars and the Gatsby Career Benchmarks

Following the government’s new Careers Strategy in December 2017, schools are expected to follow the Gatsby Career Benchmarks. The eight benchmarks outline the key dimensions of good careers provision in schools and range from opportunities to encounter employers and workplaces, to personal careers advice for every pupil. They have been introduced to ensure that all pupils receive a high-quality and well-rounded careers advice service. However, many schools will struggle to hit the target of meeting all eight benchmarks by the end of 2020 with other competing pressures and demands.

The Franklin Scholars programme has a strong grounding in key employability skills thanks to our ABCD Shield, which is made up of 24 skills that we use to train our Franklin Scholars, design our resources and evaluate our participants’ social and emotional progress. All of the skills are valuable, but many of them are also are frequently cited by employers as desirable, including leadership, teamwork, resilience and problem-solving skills (see our most recent impact report for the full range of the skills).

The Franklin Scholars ABCD Shield, which brings together 24 social and emotional skills and habits important for future success.

The Franklin Scholars ABCD Shield, which brings together 24 social and emotional skills and habits important for future success.

Our programme also helps our partner schools to work towards three of the Gatsby benchmarks in the following ways:

Gatsby Benchmark 5. Encounters with employers and employees

Though the core of our programme takes place within schools, over the course of our year-long programme, participants often have the opportunity to hear from a number of professionals. For example, at our annual Festival of Ideas events pupils pitch an idea to a Dragon’s Den panel made up of individuals from a range of career backgrounds. In the past, these have included the Head of Community at Stoke City Football Club, the Dean of the University of Derby, and representatives from the third sector. Pupils also meet a range of members of the Franklin Scholars staff members over the year and have the opportunity to attend regional and national events, all of which exposes them to various speakers and employers.

Gatsby Benchmark 6. Experience of workplaces

Although our programme takes place in the school setting, we give Franklin Scholars the valuable experience of participating in a recruitment process. Franklin Scholars are selected through an online application and following a short face-to-face interview. For most young people, this will be their first interview experience, so we support them by providing hints, tips and plenty of encouragement. All candidates, whether they are successful or not, receive personalised written feedback on their application to help them improve in the future. In addition, through our programme, Franklin Scholars are responsible for not only managing a one-to-one mentoring relationship for an entire school year but also for planning group activities for up to 20 younger mentees. Through the programme, Franklin Scholars receive training on long-term planning, improving their self-efficacy, problem-solving, and how they can become agents of change in their communities through social action; these are all skills that translate well into their future workplaces.

Gatsby Benchmark 7. Encounters with further and higher education

Franklin Scholars is proud to have a partnership with Universify, a charity which provides students from non-selective state schools the opportunity to be a university student at the University of Oxford in a residential summer programme. We signpost pupils on our programme from areas of need to Universify, to encourage them to strive for, apply to and be accepted by highly selective universities. The programme has been shown to be successful in raising the GCSE attainment and the aspirations of students who attend.  

Looking forward, and empowered by the groundswell of support for the Gatsby Benchmarks, we will be doing more to help our participants successfully transition from education to employment. Over the coming years, we will expand and develop our programmes as we continue in our mission to raise the attainment and develop the skills of young people across the country. We will be doing this by strengthening our alumni programme, building links with businesses, and ensuring that Franklin Scholars (and Junior Scholars) are provided with tools that allow them to better access fulfilling and diverse careers.

Festival of Ideas 2019 - The Discovery Academy

On Thursday 28th February, schools from Stoke-on-Trent were brought together at The Discovery Academy, for Franklin Scholars’ Festival of Ideas. We were delighted to be joined by Birches Head Academy, St Thomas More Catholic Academy, and Thistley Hough Academy, as well as the Franklin Scholars from St Peter’s Academy and of course, our hosts.

70% of students feel more excited about helping others in the future.

Attendees sought to tackle complex social issues facing their community, such as the impact of elderly loneliness, gender inequality in STEM subjects, teenage mental health, disenfranchised young voters and waste in schools.

100% of students felt they had developed useful skills such as public speaking and communication.

Following a public speaking workshop, each school was given the chance to persuade our Dragons Den panel that their solution was the best. All in a bid to win a share of the £200 prize fund.

100% of staff are going back to school with fresh ideas and / or enthusiasm.

Our dragons on the day - Adrian Hurst (Head of Community at Stoke City F.C.), David Brandrick (SMSC Lead for the Alpha Academies Trust), and Olly Offord (Franklin Scholars Programme Director) – had a tough decision to make, with each idea showing great promise. First place was eventually awarded to students from St Peter’s Academy, for their afternoon tea event for the local elderly community, staffed by young people to provide valuable work experience as well.

Here are some pictures from the day …

Franklin Scholars wins the Nesta Future Ready Fund award!

We are excited to announce that Franklin Scholars has been picked as one of ten successful projects under the Nesta Future Ready Fund. Projects were picked from a pool of 300 applicants for demonstrating, “great potential to expand their work…and achieve long-term, sustainable impact.”

The Future Ready Fund was designed to fund programmes focused on key non-cognitive skills previously identified by the Education Endowment Foundation, including emotional intelligence, resilience and self-confidence. The fund was launched a year after Nesta’s report The Future of Skills underscored the importance of interpersonal skills to future success in young people.

Over the next year - and in addition to financial support - we will also receive non-financial support from the fund’s evaluation partner at the University of Sussex. The support will include helping us develop our evaluation approaches and ensure our intervention is improving a number of social and emotional skills and habits.

Looking back and looking forward: thoughts on my time at Franklin Scholars

I can remember meeting with Jessica Barratt, the founder of Franklin Scholars, for the first time and getting very excited about the potential of powering up young people to help others. I had spent my career being impressed by the witticism, energy, and ‘know how’ of the young people I worked with; helping young people enact change in others seemed like something I wanted to help make happen.

Five years later, I have decided to move on from Franklin Scholars. I was brought in as Programme Director to mould and shape our peer-mentoring programmes so that they were efficient and impactful. I am incredibly proud of the beacon programme we have now, and its ability to enact meaningful impact on our participants. Now it’s time for more schools and young people to experience those programmes.

Looking back, there are a few truths that I’ve been reflecting on and the Franklin Scholars team encouraged me to share them here (you can thank them for this!).


Relationships are magic

Humans are complicated beings. Broad individuality makes any one person hard to define, which therefore makes 1:1 relationships so infinitely wild. The potential outcomes that are generated by two people who show compassion for each other are endless. As a quick thought experiment, try to define the impact of one of your parents. Try to make a comprehensive list of all the things you’ve gained from a good colleague. Largely impossible? That irrationality has made my job of evaluating Franklin Scholars very challenging, but it’s also provided the most rewarding experiences in the work that we do.

Moments that stand out to me include the Y10 who taught his Y7 mentee chess because he thought it would help the mentee focus; the pair that still have lunch together every week even after the formal programme has ended; the Franklin Scholar who used the experiences with their younger sister to bring out the best in their mentee. There’s a spirit in these relationships which is so powerful, I just think they’re magic.

Social and Emotional Skills are recognised as important but still frustratingly difficult to measure

This debate on how we talk about (and measure) the social and emotional aspects of interventions has been going on for decades. Character, non-cognitive, soft, working skills - everyone has a good enough gist of how those words are defined, although they all simply try to capture how humans react to other people and changing situations. 

Even with all of the momentum and enthusiasm to develop these skills in young people, progress on measuring outcomes linked to social and emotional development has been slow. There’s conflicting evidence on malleability, and our inability to reach consensus on definitions means we’re a long way off being able to measure any of them - let alone use evaluation to plan effective intervention.

Some of these skills, and how they balance, are implicitly linked to values. Values are political. Politics is rough going (where have you been?). So I don’t know how many of these challenges are going to get addressed soon, but it’s something I have spent years thinking about. One of the things I’m most proud of is that Franklin Scholars has not shied away from these difficulties and even with very few resources, we have always tried to improve how we measure our intervention’s impact in this realm.

Young people’s capacity is boundless

For anyone who has the privilege to work with young people, it is clear that they are generally not tired, or weary, or sceptical. They’re energetic, wonderfully naive, and optimistic. How do we take advantage? How do we use that energy to make sure that young people can take themselves and others further than we oldies have thought possible? How do we give them the mechanisms?

What’s been exciting recently are the examples of young people going to scale - the Parkland Teens in the US, or the climate change march last week. Young people are starting to shake the stereotype that they are not politically engaged. So how do we let them in?

My next step is with the Greater London Authority encouraging more young people to take part in social action and volunteering, so here’s to more of this in the future.

Thank you to everyone who has made my time at Franklin Scholars so enjoyable - the partners who have provide invaluable support, the individuals who have made incredible sounding boards, the enthusiastic staff members of our partner schools. Franklin Scholars is special, and you’re all special for being involved and for helping us make it what it is now. See you all soon!

Olly Offord joined Franklin Scholars in September 2014 as the organisation’s second staff member. As Programme Director, Olly helped scale up our programmes to work in schools across six regions in England and led the development of our numeracy curriculum. Prior to Franklin Scholars, Olly trained as a teacher through the Teach First programme, and taught Maths in Doncaster. He was awarded as one of Britain's Dream Teachers in 2011, before joining the Hackney Pirates as a Creative Educator.

Calling new partner schools!

As some of you might have noticed from your email inboxes, Franklin Scholars has launched an outreach campaign to increase our number of partner schools in the 19/20 academic year! Now that we have five solid years of programme development and implementation under our belt, and aligned with our new strategic vision, we are actively working to increase the number of schools that we serve every year.

How can our programme help you?

Our beacon peer mentoring programme is a year-long intervention where we recruit and train your most promising older students who then provide a year-long programme of mentoring and academic support to younger students experiencing challenges in school, be they academic or socio-emotional. More information about our programme (with literacy and numeracy focus areas), our impact, and what the students think can be found here, on our website. Our programme is effective at closing the attainment gap, and we track progress in each school through school-specific impact reports on participant progress and wellbeing.

Our programmes can be used on a number of different year groups, depending on your needs. For example, we have experience in running Year 10 - Year 7, Year 12 - Year 7, and Year 12 - Year 9 programmes. We have also done training days in Sixth Forms and provided programming for Primary Schools.

We use data to track how our programmes benefit students. As such, we are thrilled that for the 19/20 academic year, an independent assessment will likely be undertaken of our programme (which will confirm how our intervention helps students, and allow us to further improve our intervention as well).

What kind of partner schools are we looking for?

We work with schools across England (having worked in 50 schools across six different regions!) and our programme is designed to fit within a wide range of school contexts. We are looking for partner schools interested in improving academic as well as social and emotional outcomes for key pupils in the student body. Our intervention is highly structured with in-school training and assistance provided at specific points during the year. The schools that benefit the most from our programme, are those who work in partnership with us to ensure appropriate student referral into the programme. In addition, positive impacts from our programme increase in schools that continue working with us year-on-year.

It’s important that schools nominate a programme leader to be our main contact point throughout the year; this programme leader can expect to spend approximately one hour per week on the programme (supervising the students, who are trained to run the programme by themselves). We know, however, that school workloads are high. For this reason, we will be rolling out more support for programme leaders in the 19/20 school year, including weekly virtual ‘office hours’ where our programme staff will be ‘on call’ to help address any issues the school might have (in addition to our existing support mechanisms).

Are there opportunities for programme subsidies and discounts?

We know that school funding landscapes are tight, and we have therefore reduced the costs of our programme as much as we can. We also know that the number one reason why schools decline to work with us is because they cannot afford our programming. For the 19/20 school year, we are offering the following subsidies and discounts to schools who qualify:

1) Select schools in Category 5 and 6 areas may be eligible for a one-time £1,000 subsidy (a 20% discount on a 30-student programme) of our programme in the 19/20 school year. This is thanks to generous donor funding received specifically for this purpose.

2) Schools that sign up for two years of our intervention, will be eligible to receive a 10% discount on the cost of the programme over two years (whether they sign up for a 30-student or 60-student programme).

3) Schools that successfully refer us to another school will be eligible for a one-time discount and schools are able to reduce the per-pupil cost of our intervention by 25% by signing up for a double (60-student) programme instead of a single (30-student) programme.

What are the next steps?

We’re spending the next few months actively speaking with schools across England, working to develop new partnerships and answering questions about whether our programme is right for you. These conversations typically start with a phone call or an in-person meeting, with follow up meetings as needed. We often provide references to existing partner schools and are happy to set up school visits for potential partner schools to see our programme in action! As schools begin to articulate their 19/20 budgets, we continue to provide information as needed, with decisions on school partnerships made between April and June. Since our interventions are aligned with the academic year, our programmes will kick off in September 2019!

Interested in finding out more? Contact us for more information!

Three cool things that Franklin Scholars have done this year - and it's only February!

This year (like every year!), our Franklin Scholars continue to amaze us with the cool and exciting things they are doing in their schools and communities. Check out our top three for 2019…and it’s only February!

  1. Shahid, one of our Franklin Scholar from Manchester Academy, was named an #iwill ambassador for his work with Franklin Scholars and social action to get the voices of young people heard. There are only 250 #iwill ambassadors (50 in each new cohort), so this is a great achievement!

  2. Shaan from Langdon Academy gave a keynote speech at the annual Anne Frank Trust lunch! This lunch was attended by hundreds of guests and has already raised almost £450,000!

  3. Last but certainly not least, Penny from Chellaston Academy published an Op-Ed in the Huffington Post about ‘ditching the influencers on Instagram’, and how this helped Penny love her disabled self. Read more on the Huffington Post website, here!

Photos courtesy of #iwill , Langdon Academy, and Huffington Post.

Launch of our numeracy programme!

Did you know that 38% of students don’t progress in numeracy during their first year of secondary school? For this reason, and thanks to support from Nesta’s Maths Mission team, Tata Group, and Tata Limited, we are pleased to announce the development of a brand new numeracy curriculum for our year-long peer mentoring programmes. Built around the latest in evidence-based research, our programme focuses on the mastery of number using a cognitive load approach. With success in piloting the programme across three schools (preliminary impact results are promising…see p. 19 of this report!), we are gearing up to roll this out to more schools in 2019.

Similar to our existing literacy programmes, our numeracy programme involves the recruitment and training of older students (called Franklin Scholars) who then provide year-long programmes of support to boost, strengthen and stretch younger pupils vulnerable to dips in progress.

Our rigorous programmes challenge and equip the Franklin Scholars to lead weekly workshops for younger pupils. While the Franklin Scholars help their mentees boost academic skills and develop the resilience to tackle the challenges that lie ahead, they themselves develop a sense of purpose, self-worth and responsibility.

Interested in finding out more? Check out our programmes page, get more information on our impact, and contact us for a chat!

Looking back on 2018!

Unbelievably, it’s already the last day of 2018…and what a fantastic year it has been! Here at Franklin Scholars, we took our programme to new heights, laying the groundwork needed for a big 2019. Not only did we reach a range of new schools, but we expanded our academic programme to include a numeracy curriculum, and we began the transition to new leadership and new partners. Curious about what we were able to achieve? Check out our top five achievements, below!

1. Working with over 30 schools in six regions of England!

The 2018 calendar year really saw us increase our reach, as we worked with almost 1,500 students in 31 schools delivering our signature, year-long peer mentoring programmes! Want to know what schools we work with? Check out our partnerships page!

2. Developing our numeracy programme with Nesta support!

Throughout 2017 and 2018, and thanks to support from Nesta’s Maths Mission team, Tata Group and Tata Limited, we developed a brand new numeracy curriculum for our year-long peer mentoring programme. With success in piloting the programme across three schools (preliminary impact results are quite promising…see p. 19 of this report!), we are gearing up to roll this out to more schools in 2019. Interested in learning more? Contact us!

Our fantastic new numeracy resources!

Our fantastic new numeracy resources!

3. Two successful Festival of Ideas!

Some of our favourite events of the year are our Festivals of Ideas! These events bring together schools for one-day workshops on collaboration and problem-solving. This year’s two festivals (at St Clement Danes School in Hertfordshire and Chellaston Academy in Derby) were attended by students from 13 schools! These one-day workshops are a fantastic way for students to boost and practice important skills; 76% of students left our events feeling more confident talking to new people!


4. Improving our impact assessments through our Teach First Innovation Partnership!

Here at Franklin Scholars, we are always doing our best to monitor and evaluate our programmes at the school level, and to assess the impact of our interventions. Over our five-year history, we have worked to improve our impact assessments to become more and more robust (want to read past impact reports? Click here!). As a small organisation, though, we are always looking to improve how we measure our impact while keeping efficiency and resource-limitations in mind. Lucky for us, as one of only eleven Teach First Innovation Partners, we have been given the opportunity to improve our M&E systems as well as how we visualise our data. This will help us improve internal decision-making, quickly spot which school programmes need more assistance, and better forecast our resource needs. Amazing!

5. Hitting our five-year anniversary and looking forward!

It’s almost impossible to believe that Franklin Scholars has hit our five-year mark! Looking back, it’s great to see how much the organisation has grown…not just in the number of people we reach, but also in the types of programming we deliver. Looking forward, 2019 is set to be an exciting year for us. With a new CEO and renewed focus on scaling-up, we anticipate a year of expanded school services and diversifying our partnerships as well. Interested in working with us? Contact us!

Happy holidays and a fond farewell!

Dear Friends,

This Christmas we have some extra special greetings to make - one fond farewell and one warm welcome.

Five years after founding Franklin Scholars, I could not be prouder of what the team has achieved. Through 49 school partnerships we have supported over 3,000 young people across 6 regions of England.

Students have seen their academic progress accelerate, and their resilience and leadership skills develop. But what I continue to find most inspiring is how, year after year, so many young people are continuing to put themselves forward to help others in their school communities.

Jess at one of this year’s Festival of Ideas!

Jess at one of this year’s Festival of Ideas!

I set up Franklin Scholars because I knew that children come up against all sorts of challenges as they pass through school - not just academic but, often more significantly, social, emotional and mental health related challenges. But I also knew that in every school there is this huge, wonderful pool of other young people who are really well placed to help.

We do it because everybody needs a champion. Because human connection and relationships can move mountains. Because no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.

Giving young people the opportunity to mentor others isn't rocket science. But it works. Before they even take their GCSEs, these Franklin Scholars are developing a sense of purpose, self-worth and responsibility, recognising that they have a part to play in society. And this is the stuff that sticks.

As Benjamin Franklin put it, "When you're good to others, you are best to yourself."

And so it is with very mixed emotions that I'm stepping aside from Franklin Scholars in the new year. But primarily, looking back: pride; and looking forward: hope.

We have recruited a fabulous new CEO in Kim Reuter, who joins us after a decade working in international development, research programme management and public policy. Kim will be developing the strategy to take Franklin Scholars to new levels of scale and sustainability, growing our impact to reach thousands more young people in the years to come.

I'm so excited to watch the organisation grow and flourish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly welcome Kim, while also thanking the rest of the team - Olly, Georgia and Laina - for all the hard work and all the laughs along the way.

With warmest wishes to all of our friends, colleagues and supporters for a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2019,

Jess, Founder of Franklin Scholars