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 …

Being a Franklin Scholar at Walthamstow Academy

Doing the "Human Knot" challenge during our training.

Doing the "Human Knot" challenge during our training.

The Franklin Scholars are some of Walthamstow Academy's most promising Year 10 students, who have been recruited and trained to provide a year-long programme of mentoring and literacy support to Year 7s who have struggled in the transition from primary to secondary school.

Prior to starting the programme we received two full days of training. The first day consisted of us learning how to properly engage with the Year 7s and the relevant topics/activities that we would need to carry out with them. On the second day of training we met with the group of Year 7s who would be taking part in this year's programme and we were given some time to interact with each and every one of the Year 7s. This was beneficial to both parties as we got a basic understanding of each other and this also helped them to feel more comfortable around us as we were then assigned to our individual mentees.

From that point on the Franklin Scholars sessions have been taking place every Tuesday and Wednesday during form time. Each and every Year 10 mentor has built a strong bond with their Year 7 mentee.

We think that the Franklin Scholars programme is an amazing opportunity seeing as being Year 10s we know how overwhelming it can be to be in Year 7 due to the drastic change of environment. Through this programme we get to support the Year 7s at the start of their secondary school journey. I am one of the many proud members of the Franklin Scholars team in Year 10 and we believe that when one teaches, two learn.

The 2017-18 cohort of Franklin Scholars at Walthamstow Academy

The 2017-18 cohort of Franklin Scholars at Walthamstow Academy

Festival of Ideas 2018 - St Clement Danes School

Just before Easter, students from 5 schools in the Hertfordshire area came together at St Clement Danes School for a day of community-focused collaboration and problem-solving. Students tackled challenges ranging from encouraging more girls into STEM subjects and careers, to elderly isolation. After a public speaking workshop, participants then pitched their ideas to a Dragon's Den-style panel, who awarded development cash prizes to those that had the most potential.

The overall winners were students from Rickmansworth School with their elegant plan for "Memory Mornings" - coffee mornings hosted at the school for the local elderly population to share memories and interact with the younger generation and each other.

Here are some pictures from the day... 

What the attendees thought...

  • The day was "amazing" and "a rollercoaster";
  • Students left feeling "proud", "buzzing", and "more confident";
  • 100% of teachers enjoyed the event and agreed or strongly agreed that students had developed practical skills;
  • Students reported a 79%increase in their self-efficacy and a 68% increase in their confidence communicating with new people.

"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.


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


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.


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’.