It doesn’t take much to be marginalised by society. Without the right foundations for facing and overcoming obstacles, struggling students give up on their education or even slip into crime. They may struggle to find fulfilling careers and the support to become valuable community members.
The cost of academic failure to our society is well documented by UNICEF, HM Prisons Service and the Department of Education. Failure results in lower social mobility, higher crime, unemployment and a fragmented society. More than 1 million young people (aged 16 to 24) are not in education, employment or training (NEET). That translates into one in seven, increasing by 2% annually. In financial terms, the resulting cost to London is £145 million.
One Degree is a growing academic mentoring charity that has been improving the GCSE performance and self-belief of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in London since 2009. Our main activity is intensive academic mentoring in English and Maths (including remedial teaching, study skills and exam preparation). Additionally, we contribute to our students’ personal development by offering them life skills training, talks by inspirational speakers and fun sports activities. As part of our holistic approach, we also provide each student with two meals per session.
Background & Brief History
One Degree was founded by the late Adnan Jaffery in 2009. Since then we have improved the academic performance and self-belief of 408 students from disadvantaged backgrounds in London. The registered charity consists of six trustees and one full-time CEO, who was appointed in February, 2014. See our team here.
One Degree is a personal and academic journey designed to support, guide and inspire struggling youth. We believe an A-C grade in GCSE Maths and English are the “passports” that will change a student’s life direction. We achieve this in the following ways:
- Volunteer mentors – Regular and consistent learning and revision leading up to GSCE exams embeds the practice, planning, time-keeping and confidence the students require.
- Learning through technology – The use of a tablet per student allows fun, modern learning while contributing to significant savings and environmental responsibility.
- Guest Speakers – Inspirational and motivational speakers help give students direction, ambition and aspiration.
- Sports – A variation of group activities builds bonds among the students and mentors.
- Food – Fun, healthy food boosts energy levels and the ability to focus.
Supported by qualified teachers, mentors work with small groups of students for anything from 3 to 25 sessions per year. Our 25 annual sessions include 5-10 sessions over Autumn (Oct, Nov) and 10-15 sessions over Winter/Spring (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May). These sessions are on Saturdays (and some Sundays).
One Degree’s target areas include the most deprived areas of London. At the moment, we are currently focusing on Brent, Haringey and Westminster.
Brent, London, for example, is a growing community both in numbers and business. Brent is among the most deprived boroughs in England according to the Child Well-being Index. The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals is considerably higher than the national average, a factor that the Department for Education’s research links directly to poor GCSE performance. In addition to a shortage of schools, Brent’s schools are failing to deliver a good standard of education. One in ten of its secondary schools are below the minimum standard of 40% GCSEs marked A*-C including English and Maths, compared to less than one in five schools nationally. Brent is also among the most culturally diverse in the UK and a hotspot for immigrants making this borough a prime location for student intervention.
See London breakdown of borough deprivation vs. GCSE scores here.
Watch the below short film to hear what our pupils say about the One Degree programme: