The Need

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.

The Method

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.

The Journey

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.

Watch the below short film to hear what our pupils say about the One Degree programme:

The Timescales

In-Person sessions: Supported by qualified teachers, mentors work with small groups of students for anything from 10 to 25 sessions per year. Our annual programme includes 5-10 sessions over Autumn (Oct, Nov – when possible) and 10-20 sessions over Winter/Spring (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June). These sessions are on Saturdays.

Online sessions: We offer ad-hoc 1-on-1 mid-week evening and structured group weekend online mentor options for our students. These act as complementary to our in-person sessions as well as in place of for students (and mentors) who cannot join Saturday in-person sessions.

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 hundreds of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in London. The registered charity consists of six trustees, a specialised operations team, high-quality teachers, and volunteers. See our team here.

Read about our story

The Location

One Degree’s target areas include the most deprived areas of London. At the moment, we are currently focusing on Brent, Haringey and Westminster.

North London, in boroughs such as Brent and Haringey for example, are growing communities 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.

Get Involved

We are always recruiting for enthusiastic mentors, committed students and schools that would benefit from the One Degree approach.