A day in the life: Why I love working with Franklin Scholars.

My day starts with a quick rattle through my inbox before sitting down with Jess (Franklin Scholars CEO) to catch each other up – on a new partnership she’s developing with a group in west London, on the visits to schools I’ve been doing the last few weeks, on the logistics of our upcoming Awards Ceremony, on how we continue to think about measuring skills from our ABCD Shield. It starts as quick bullets, before becoming a more in-depth discussion on how we need to approach some of the weightier challenges. Meaty.

I remember where this whole thing started - sat in a small coffee shop in East London. Officially, Jess and I were both scouting each other out; gauging if I would be a good fit for the job that was being advertised. What it became was an enveloping discussion involving our conviction that students had a unique power to support others in their school, that the development of social emotional skills is all-important, and that by creating a network of skilled and engaged Franklin Scholars we could produce … well, endless beneficial outcomes. I told Jess at the end of that meeting that I would most definitely be applying.

That’s what I love about my job; that I get to work with someone that I share a vision with and get to work, on a daily basis, to make it happen.

In the afternoon, I’m off to one of our partner schools to run a booster training session with our Y10 Franklin Scholars. Today we’re breaking down and planning out long-term goals to make them a little less daunting. It’s introducing tools that the older students can use with their younger mentees, but it inevitably is also training for how they could use them themselves. As a worked example, one of the Franklin Scholars starts to tackle world peace! 

I put myself in a café and open up my laptop. I spend the rest of the afternoon handling emails to and from our teachers and senior leaders, creating the slide deck for the workshop I’m doing later in the week, phoning potential venues for the awards ceremony, evaluating an event we hosted in Bolton the previous week.

Sometimes my day will end with an event, where you get to share a free drink with people doing related things – there are a lot of passionate people out there. But today I’m winding down with a home cooked dinner and catch-up TV before starting a different day tomorrow.

We're hiring! Seeking Programme and Partnerships Officer – deadline 18th May. Details at www.franklinscholars.org

Cultivate Curiosity

Children are often thought of as being the most curious beings; they constantly bug their parents with questions like “how?” and “why?”. They explore, they touch everything just to know what it feels like, they create silly beautiful things, and they somehow make almost anything into a really fun game.  But why do we perceive our curiosity to decline as we get older? Is it because we lose sight of what interests us and focus on what we need in order to be successful?  Or it is because we are told to smarten up and stop being so silly? Either way, curiosity is just as important to us as adults as it was when we were children.    

In our Franklin Scholar programme we have noticed that our year 7 students are highly curious; they relentlessly ask all sorts of questions about anything that pops into their heads. They’re rarely embarrassed of their questions and we admire that, because no question is a stupid question.  Here we have taken some recommendations from Todd Kashdan’s article: The Power of Curiosity, and come up with a few of our own ideas for how we can continue to be curious as we get older. Because in this ever-changing world it’s important to never stop learning.

Play 20 questions  

Make it a goal to learn as much as you can about someone, whether that is someone new, a good friend, or your significant other.  It might surprise you how much you can learn from someone you thought you knew everything about.  

Explore your passions  

Think fishing is fun?  Take a course on fishing or join a group that goes out every weekend.  Like reading poetry?  Why not try writing some of your own, or go to a live poetry club.  Dive deeper into your interests.  

Try it again  

Have you ever tried something but you didn’t enjoy it or you thought it was too hard so you gave up? Well, try it again! Fear of failure will only hold you back; who knows if you try it again with a different approach the outcome could be different. It’s important to keep an open mind and understand that trial and error only leads us to learn more and where things can be improved.  

Speak up

Have you ever had a question burning a hole in your brain but you were too embarrassed to ask?  Well it’s time to put anxiety and embarrassment aside.  You are far more likely to learn about someone or something when you demonstrate you’re interested through speaking up and asking questions.  

Read more  

Reading is a great way to open up your mind and see things from a new perspective.  No matter what you decide to read, it will put you inside someone else’s mind and give you new perspectives, new knowledge.  There is a positive correlation between reading and curiosity: people who read more are more curious.  

Need some inspiration? Here are some things that may spark your curiosity:

Tate Modern: Resources

Empathy Library

Character Lab: Curiosity

Warning! In exercising these tips you may be uncomfortable or embarrassed and that’s okay, you can learn and grow from these experiences. Who knows, you might learn to love the feeling of the unknown or the ‘to be found out’.  

By: Emily Lawrence

Autumn Half Term Reflections

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September marked the start of the third year of the Franklin Scholars programme. This time two years ago, Jess had recently founded the organisation and was running the programme herself in two London Schools. This time last year, the illustrious Olly came on board and together they ran the programme in seven schools, in London and the North West. This year, the team has grown with the help of Emily and Lizzie, we have moved into our very first little office, and we are running the programme in 13 schools, in London, the North West and the South West. 

As the first half of the Autumn 2015 term comes to an end we ask ourselves - where has the time gone?  Reflecting on the past couple of months we are filled with many fond memories and reminded of a couple of challenges. Here are some reflections from Team FS: Jess, Olly, Emily and Lizzie.

Olly

This half term has been our busiest yet! One of the incredible things to come from that has been meeting and training all of this year’s Franklin Scholars and preparing them for the year ahead. It’s been fantastic to visit all of our schools – including all of the new schools and new geographical areas that we are bringing into the Franklin Scholars community. There have been some challenges though, chiefly learning so many names! I’ve been getting a few jumbled up but hopefully I’ve been doing OK. Being in lots of different schools also means I’ve been spending more time apart from the Franklin Scholars team – which has been getting bigger. It’s been great to welcome Emily and Lizzie into the team this term. They’ve already been having a fantastic impact on the stuff that we do. Here’s to another great few months of 2015!

Emily

Starting with the Franklin Scholars team this September has been really exciting. I have enjoyed meeting the students, learning about them and what inspires them. I find myself relating to them quite easily.  I especially enjoy seeing students get really excited about being a part of our programme; the Franklin Scholars are motivated to help Year 7s, and Year 7s love the idea of having an older student as their personal coach.  Another highlight of mine has been getting to know the rest of the team; Olly, Jess and Lizzie are passionate, supportive and kind. 

Challenges I am trying to overcome include my anxiety when talking to large groups and understanding the different accents I’m being exposed to. I sometimes get quite nervous when I’m talking to large groups of people, but each time I do it, I feel like my anxiety decreases and I become a little more confident. Since I am Canadian and this is my first time in England, sometimes I find myself struggling in understanding the very diverse accents here. Also, there have been a few times when others had difficulties in understanding me as well. But a good laugh always seems to help the conversation along. 

Lizzie

Reflecting back on my first half term with Franklin Scholars, my biggest challenge has been learning about the enterprise, the schools and education across the UK as quickly as possible! Luckily, a highlight of working with the Franklin Scholars team has been that I’m never short of a helping hand.

The support of the whole team and the enthusiasm of the partner schools has made me feel incredibly proud of the work of Franklin Scholars. I’ve left so many interviews with Year 10s feeling overwhelmed by the privilege of being able to meet with so many inspirational students.

Looking forward to the next half of term I definitely still have a lot left to learn. Especially how Olly is able to remember the names of hundreds of students after just one afternoon of training (he’s definitely being too modest in his half term review)!

Jess

Taking this opportunity to reflect on the last few years gives me an immense sense of pride in what we have achieved and built as an organisation, and how, while we continue to grow and reach more young people, we never stop learning and improving - both as an organisation and as individuals.

A challenge for me that has become very real in this last half of term is that as the organisation grows, so my hands-on involvement with our partner schools and young people diminishes. This saddens, challenges and thrills me in equal measures. Saddened at having less direct contact with our beneficiaries – the reason I started doing this in the first place; challenged by the host of new skills and expertise I need to develop to drive the organisation forward; thrilled that I have stellar colleagues who I know do an outstanding job of delivering our programmes. And I can only imagine that these emotions - and more - will continue to provoke each other as we continue to learn, improve, and expand our work over the coming year. 

What have been your highlights and challenges? How have they affected you? And how will you work to overcome your challenges? Tweet at us using the #HalfTermReview to join in on the conversation.

Back2School Advice

With the 2015/2016 school year just beginning we’ve put together a collection of advice from our 2014/2015 Franklin Scholars to help new Year 7s with the first week jitters.  Starting a new school year can make some students feel really excited but others maybe feeling a little nervous.  No matter where you fall on the spectrum these pieces of advice are good to keep in mind!

-“Get involved with your lessons, other pupils and even clubs!”

-“Step out of your comfort zone… talk to people and ask for help.”

-“…have fun, because you can learn a lot of cool stuff and experience new things.”

-“Always be yourself and that will help you make friends.”

-“Try your best at your work and feel free to ask a teacher for help.”

-“…always believe in your abilities and strength and don’t compare yourself to others.”

-“Don’t let the fear of new people and a new place affect your confidence towards others. Be sociable and friendly because that’s the first step in opening up.”

-“…always believe in your abilities and strength and don’t compare yourself to others.”

We’d like to say good luck to all of the Year 7s starting a new chapter in their lives and anyone else who’s starting something new where this advice might come in handy.  

"Crucial Support for a crucial juncture": Franklin Scholars at St Clement Danes School.

Faye Ramsbottom, Religious Studies and Philosophy Teacher and Assistant Head of Key Stage 4 at St Clement Danes School, explains how her experience of becoming a Programme Leader for Franklin Scholars has taught her to re-focus on removing barriers to learning for vulnerable pupils.

As Programme Leader for Franklin Scholars at St Clement Danes School for the last year, it’s been my responsibility to coordinate and oversee twice-weekly sessions with Year 10s and Year 7s, involving a combination of group activities, 1:1 literacy support and 1:1 mentoring.

The most powerful thing for me has been seeing students find their way within the programme and within the school, and the Year 10s taking the initiative and jumping at the chance to help younger students out. The Year 7s are even doing it now too – offering help in areas where their peers are struggling. 

Some Y10-Y7 pairs have built really strong and productive relationships. One striking example of the power of peer networks has been personified by the relationship between one Year 7 and his Franklin Scholar. The younger pupil is very outgoing, and not always inclined to sit down and complete tasks that require an extended period of concentration. His Y10 mentor had the idea of teaching him how to play chess, which has been great to see and has likely been a factor in improving his ability to focus in class. 

Year 7 participants have reported an increase in their confidence, and have felt supported by having a trusted peer in school. Where the relationship between mentor and mentee is strong there has been a noticeable impact on pupils’ attitudes to learning – shown through reports from teachers. Amongst the Year 10s we have noted, in particular, the development of their leadership and communication skills.

I think what makes the programme stand out from other peer mentoring or buddying schemes is the frequency and consistency that comes with the programme – Y7 pupils having another person who’s not a teacher, who’s more on their level and closer to their age, and who actively wants to help them out, twice a week, every week. The opportunity that they have over the course of the year to build real positive relationships is exceptional. 

The identity and accreditation definitely makes a difference too – the Y10s are proud to call themselves the Franklin Scholars, and knowing that they are part of a network of students around the country working towards the same goals helps to spur them on.

While I knew this already, running the programme has reminded me how important it is to remove any barriers to learning early on in a student’s education, as it can have such a big impact later on. The transition from primary to secondary is a time of challenge for many pupils and it’s the single most important moment to put the right provision in place. Peer-to-peer support is a powerful tool to aid in this. 

I have definitely enjoyed the experience. Simply seeing the students interacting with each other is enough to make it all worthwhile!

 

Franklin Scholars is a peer-mentoring programme to ease the transition from primary to secondary school for vulnerable students (e.g. students with low self-confidence or challenges in literacy), while equipping Y10s with academic mentoring and leadership skills.

Through the programme, both year groups are given the opportunity to develop their confidence, resilience and socialisation skills; all of which leads to raising their academic attainment.

 

#WeDayUK: “I feel strongly that you are the most powerful generation in the whole of human history. Use your power to create the world you want to live in.”

“I feel strongly that you are the most powerful generation in the whole of human history. Use your power to create the world you want to live in.” - Professor Muhammad Yunus

Last Thursday we were lucky enough to be a part of the second ever We Day UK, and what a day it was.

Not one of the 12,000 schoolchildren packed into Wembley Arena had bought a ticket. Each and every one of them had earned it through doing good to others - which is why some Franklin Scholars from Burlington Danes Academy were privileged to be in the audience.

Proclaimed “the coolest classroom in the world” - it probably was. A whole day dedicated to not just celebrating the good that our young people have done in their communities and beyond, but also hearing and learning from some of the most truly inspiring speakers, social entrepreneurs, activists and changemakers that the world has to offer.

Here are just a few of our highlights:

- The inimitable Martin Sheen making a supremely powerful call-to-action - “While acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive. We are all responsible for each other and the world. We make the rules that govern our hearts and minds. My fondest wish for each and every one of you is that you will find something in your life worth fighting for.”

- Learning about the ingenious Solarbox- transforming disused telephone boxes into free solar-powered charging points for phones - and BioBean- collecting waste coffee grounds and recycling them into advanced biofuels.

- Andy Barrow telling us about how he used to think it was all about him. And how empowering it was when he realised it wasn’t.

- Bars and Melody - nuff said.

“I learned that no matter what age you are, you can make a change. All of the speakers - of different ages, different backgrounds, and with different stories - were directed at one thing: change. There are no restrictions within change!!!” - Salwa, Y10 Franklin Scholar, Burlington Danes Academy

“It was a fun way to find ideas about helping other people while helping yourself too. My favourite speaker was Kweku Mandela. He had a strong relationship with someone very inspirational and he learned how to take his grandfather’s influence forward into his own life and the lives of others.” - Zak, Y10 Franklin Scholar, Burlington Danes Academy

A big thank you goes out to our founding partners, Big Change, who are also founding partners of We Day and were our wonderful hosts for the day.

How to Get a Job at Google

The Google Workplace

Google’s Senior Vice President of People has some stuff to say about what they value in the people they recruit:

“test scores are worthless. … we found that they don’t predict anything.”

Google hires about 5,000 new staff and receives over 1-million CVs each year, and, for them, it’s all about learning ability, leadership, ownership and humility. 

It’s not about what you know. It’s about your approach to what you don’t.

Find out more about how Franklin Scholars are helping students develop valuable skills here.

How to be more creative

How to be more creative

Are you creative? Not very many people say yes. Many people think of themselves as blankly uncreative; that they can’t draw, they’re not good at coming up with ideas – but everyone has the capacity (as with anything).

After listening to a brilliant podcast on the source of creativity, here are a few things that were brought to mind.

Be inspired. There are things out there that spark your curiosity. You’ll know the feeling; getting an idea after hearing something, seeing something, hearing something. Being creative is about using those inspirations as best you can.

And, apparently, you don’t need to look very far. Sting, after feeling like he’d run out of songs (he had written quite a few), returned to his hometown and realized that it contained endless inspiration, which eventually lead to his acclaimed musical The Last Ship. It was the little memories that he didn’t think were that important that set his mind whirring the most. 

Don’t care. Did you know that when you enter a ‘creative mode’, the part of your brain responsible for conscious self-monitoring shuts down? It stops caring – it is no longer worrying about how you are behaving and how you might be judged. This means that you are no longer inhibited and more willing to make mistakes. Lesson: don’t be afraid to be an idiot.

Work on something you’re interested in. Have you ever been told to ‘follow your passion?’ Have you ever wanted for the person that said that to you to be harmed because they haven’t understood the crux of the issue; that you don’t know what your passion is? Instead, Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that you follow something that you’re curious about, something that you’re interested in. It might lead somewhere, but the worst that can happen is you spend your life learning and exploring the things that you’re fascinated by.

We definitely recommend that you check out the full podcast here: TED Radio Hour - The Source of Creativity

Growth Mindset and the X Factor

Growth Mindset and the X Factor

X Factor is one of the most dramatic things on the telly. It might not be as sparkly (or as popular anymore) as Strictly, but the collection of flashing lights, pyrotechnics and booming Phil Dickenson announcements make for classic Saturday night entertainment. 

With such a big and influential reach, it is interesting to see how X Factor encourages, or discourages, some of the attitudes and perspectives which are important for the young and impressionable part of the audience. So, the other week, Franklin Scholars found themselves watching X Factor with a particular focus on growth mindset.

Growth mindset is the understanding that intelligence and skills are malleable. You can change how clever you are, you can improve your ability in maths, and you can become better at sports. The counter to this is a fixed mindset where you believe that your intelligence and skills are innate; things that you were born with.

People with growth mindsets tend to persevere more at tasks, see mistakes as learning opportunities and look for more challenges in order to keep getting better. As a result, people with stronger growth mindsets usually achieve more and are happier with their lives.

Onto Saturday night: The X Factor sends out some mixed messages when it comes to encouraging a growth mindset.

First, the bad: 

Singing is a big offender when it comes to ‘innate’ ability.  There is a prevailing attitude that belting out a tuneful song is something that you can either do or you can’t. And the X Factor is full of clips and phrases demonstrating that view:

“You’re a natural.”

“You have a real gift that not many people have.”

“I was born to be a singer”

Not helpful, ITV. Yes, genetics plays a role in the state of your vocal chords, but no one was born humming a melody. A voice can be trained and worked like any other part of the body.

But, there is a lot of good on the show! 

Lots of the contestants demonstrate a whole lot of growth mindset.

“Please, Simon. Tell me how I can do better.”

“I’ve been trying and trying for years. Just getting knocked back.”

Members of the public show real passion for a dream. They are working towards a glorious goal and won’t let anything set them back. 

Admittedly, that goal – of becoming a popstar - is quite an unlikely one. Not many people become multimillion-selling recording artists. It’s something that doesn’t happen that often. But these guys are all in it to win it. 

Why? Why are they putting so much energy and hyper-emotion into something that is statistically unattainable? How has X Factor warped the odds and got the nation so invested?

Because X Factor shows a clear progression towards the dream. No matter your age or background, the first step is simple; you queue for the first auditions, you make it to the judges, then to bootcamp, then to judges’ houses, then you fight for survival every week in the live shows, simply singing a song every time. The journey to becoming a popstar is completely explicit. Contestants can easily visualize themselves at each stage. 

That’s incredibly useful. It’s something that helps us achieve the targets that we set ourselves; breaking them down into smaller, reachable chunks. It’s something we should be supporting young people with too. Yes, this maths problem / an A* / your dream job might seem a long way off – so how can we break those down and progress forwards, rather than being stunted by the enormity of what we’re facing.

If X Factor teaches us anything, it should be that.

Ignore the IQ Test: Your Level of Intelligence is Not Fixed for Life | IFLScience

Did you know the the creator of the IQ test didn’t believe in fixed intelligence either?

What can we learn from the Southampton FC Youth Academy?

Southampton FC Youth Academy

Here at Franklin Scholars HQ we are very interested in the idea that emotional intelligence (EQ) is as crucial to students’ success as academic intelligence; that a good level of emotional intelligence may in fact be a prerequisite for academic success as well as emotional wellbeing, and that both EQ and IQ are very much malleable, and can, as such, be developed.

When we read Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindset’, we were reminded of the fact that early IQ tests were actually developed not to be a fixed measure of a person’s intelligence, but instead an indicator of those students who were being failed by the existing education systems, and for whom other methods of teaching and learning might work better.

On reading this article about the Southampton FC Youth Academy over the weekend, we were intrigued by the approach of the club’s psychologist, Malcolm Frame, in developing an emotional intelligence programme for players.

“Emotions drive thoughts, thoughts drive behaviour, behaviour drives performance,” says Frame.

This makes sense to us… and any football fans will attest to the fact that the Saints’ youth academy is producing some of the best home-grown talent this country has seen in years – so they must be doing something right.

Franklin Scholar, 15-year old Irene Kolawole, is named as an #iwill ambassador for Step Up To Serve

We are very proud to reveal that Irene, one of our inaugural cohort of Franklin Scholars at Langdon Academy, has been named as an #iwill ambassador, as part of the Step Up To Serve campaign for youth social action.

Read about how and why here.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate not just Irene, but all her fellow Franklin Scholars, for the really important work that they have done and continue to do in their schools around the country.

"Once A Franklin Scholar, Always A Franklin Scholar"

by Lemuel, Year 9, St Mark’s Academy

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At the very moment I walked through the doors of our very first training session, I could already feel a sense of excitement and connection with a teacher whom I never actually called a teacher, instead, I’ve simply known her as a friend. (Because she didn’t like us when we call her with Ms. Instead, she wanted us to call her simply with just her name) and her name is Jess, the most down-to-earth person I’ve ever known.

Before the training session, I felt so nervous as usual – as most of my friends can relate to, I’m the kind of person who just sits down in a classroom, with my mouth shut; someone who wouldn’t let anyone distract him. I’m that kind of guy!

But everything changed when the Franklin Scholars initiative suddenly walked into my life – my school life. Our training session with the Franklin Scholars team made me realise that I’ve been living under a rock all these years; they made me feel right at home and that I could talk to them by allowing myself to be vulnerable.

Then the actual peer mentoring began, and I couldn’t be more privileged to share this experience with a special Year 7 called Leonardo. He’s a very likeable boy who has become more confident over time. I call him Leo, to make things a lot simpler! He became an inspiration to me because he showed me that you don’t need to be nervous at anything, you just need to have fun, learn and be yourself.

Two amazing role models walked into my life and showed everything that I lacked all these years and I’m eternally grateful.

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During my time as a Franklin Scholar, there have been some ups and downs along the way and the way all my fellow Franklin Scholars dealt with it was incredible. Jess and Leo were always there to keep things positive for everyone, and not letting anyone give up at any point. Everyone played their part.

Because of Franklin Scholars, I’ve finally found the two things I’ve been missing: confidence and determination. Because of Franklin Scholars, I’ve become a better person. Because of Franklin Scholars, I’ve finally found a reason to keep on going and to never give up no matter what the situation is.

My ultimate goal: I want to inspire people. I want them to look at me in the eye and say ‘because of you, I didn’t give up’.