With the right support at-risk young people overcome the odds to achieve five GCSEs at grades A*-C

This year, ThinkForward Progression Coaches supported 350 young people identified as being most disengaged, to prepare for their GCSEs. These young people were predicted to fail GCSE Maths and English at the start of the ThinkForward programme and just over 50% of them achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C.

In the context of these initial predictions their achievements have defied the odds and many have overcome complex challenges in school, at home and in other areas of their lives to get to where they are today.

At a GCSE celebration event on the afternoon of results, young people from the programme talked about how they felt and their plans for the future.

Ciaran, 16 from Bethnal Green Academy achieved seven A*s and four As and will go on to sixth form to study A’levels in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Drama. He aims to study natural sciences at Cambridge University and to become a lecturer or professor.

He said: “ThinkForward has provided me with lots of different work experiences, which has helped me learn more about the workplace and what people there are like. Having my Coach behind me, encouraging me to do as many activities as possible before submitting my university application, has made a big difference.”

Feli-Fernandes, 16, from Islington Arts and Media School, achieved 9 GCSEs grades A*- C, including an A* in Spanish, A in English and B for Maths. He will go on to study A’levels and pursue a career in Finance.

He said: “ThinkForward has helped to keep me on track. My coach has been amazing in keeping me grounded and on the straight road, making me realise that we should not take opportunities for granted and that when they arise we should grab them with both hands.”

Laura, 16, from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School was pleasantly surprised to have achieved five Bs and a C for her GCSEs. Although she has a place at college she has decided to take on an apprenticeship, where she will have the chance to gain qualifications in customer service and business administration.

She said: “ThinkForward has helped me so much, I honestly don’t know where I would be without it. Since I started on the programme I’ve had lots of opportunities to do different things, which has helped to build my character and develop and grow as a person. My Coach encouraged me to do what I really want to do.”

These are just three out of 175 young people on ThinkForward’s programme who attained or surpassed the government benchmark. We warmly congratulate them on their success, but it is critical that attention is also turned to the other 50% who did not achieve the grades. They are among the 186,000 young people nationally who did not attain the desired results.

Since good attainment at age 16 provides opportunities for advanced study and longer term success in the labour market, it is essential that these young people are given extra support to realise their potential and become economically active members of society.

ThinkForward provides five years of intensive 1-2-1 support to a young person from age 13 and will continue to support these young people until age 19, so that they too gain the chance to succeed.

ThinkForward young people celebrate success at graduation event hosted by Nomura


Last Friday, the first group of young people to join ThinkForward’s programme celebrated amazing academic and vocational achievements at a graduation ceremony kindly hosted by Nomura, at its headquarters in the City of London.

At age 13 these 330 young people were identified as being most at risk of unemployment and were predicted to leave school at 16 with no qualifications. But after five years of intensive 1-2-1 support, they confounded expectations and have turned their predicted fortunes around.

Over ninety percent who graduated from the programme are in education, employment or training, with eighty percent achieving five GCSE’s at grades A*-C.  Around twenty-five percent passed A’levels exams or equivalent qualifications, and nineteen percent are set to go to university.

Taking into account that these young people were predicted grades E in English and Maths GCSE at the start of the programme, the progress they have made is truly exceptional.

As private equity investor and ThinkForward Chair, Charlie Green highlighted:  “Our class of 2015 are proof that, given the right support, the most disengaged young people can develop aspirations and achieve their ambitions. For this reason we felt it was important to give them the opportunity to create their own graduation event to celebrate their incredible achievements.”

In addition to receiving graduation certificates to mark their completion of the programme, ThinkForward graduates took ownership of the celebrations by taking centre stage themselves.

To an enthralled audience they delivered star-quality musical performances and moving personal testimonies in which they thanked their coaches for five years of unconditional and enduring support.

In return, showing deep appreciation for the young people they had supported, the coaches offered their parting words in a short film produced by ThinkForward graduates especially for the event.

That afternoon Nomura’s auditorium also hosted a pre-graduation reception where key donors and supporters discussed ThinkForward’s impact since its creation in 2010 and focused on setting the agenda for the future.

Commenting on the event’s success and the first group of young people to graduate from the programme, Kevin Munday, ThinkForward’s Managing Director said:

“It’s truly fantastic to see these young people graduating from our programme and I wish them all the very best for the future. Our aim is to prevent disengaged young people from becoming NEET and the destinations of this first group of 330 graduates demonstrates ThinkForward’s success. Looking ahead to the future our priority is to expand our impact, as there are still almost a million young people in the UK who need our support.”

This event was generously hosted by investment bank Nomura and sponsored by R.R Donnelly.

Read about the event in City A.M.