Celebrating a year of success


Thanks to all who attended our annual Thank You event, making it such a special night. We were so pleased  to see so many of our supporters, young people and Coaches all in one room to celebrate their hard work in making ThinkForward such a success this year.

From setting up as an independent charity this January to launching our work in Nottingham, none of this would have been possible without the dedicated support of the ThinkForward community. Their continuous support ensures we can reach the most disengaged  young people to help them successfully transition from school to work.

If you are interested in finding out more about our work do get in touch or come to our next ThinkForward in Action event on Wednesday 27th April. They are events that take place in one of the schools in which we deliver ThinkForward and are a unique opportunity to hear directly from our school partners, Coaches and young people still on the programme.

For more details please do get in touch. 


Transforming the lives of young people in Nottingham North

The charities ThinkForward and Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation are partnering to provide a breakthrough Progression Coaching programme in four schools. Centred in Basford Hall, New College Nottingham, the programme will support young people most at risk of unemployment to ensure they successfully transition from school to higher education or sustained work.

Led by Graham Allen MP, Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation aims to break the intergenerational nature of Nottingham North’s outer estate deprivation, addressing route causes rather than just the symptoms. Together with ThinkForward they will work in schools to provide five years of one-to-one support to  young people identified as being most risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training). ThinkForward’s Coaches will provide long-term personalised support, helping young people to overcome challenges in and out of school and to build employability skills and confidence.

ThinkForward currently works with over 1100 young people across 14 schools in east London and has achieved impressive results. 91% of young people graduating from the programme are in further education, employment or training and 72% have achieved 5 A*-C GSCE’s. Building on this success their move to Nottingham is the first step in their national expansion.

Why Nottingham North?

Nottingham North has some of the UK’s highest levels of inter-generational unemployment, low educational attainment and social deprivation. Despite Nottingham being a hub for local and national businesses many young people from Nottingham North are not progressing into sustained jobs and 1 in 3 live in a workless households.

The ThinkForward programme will address this by supporting 200 young people at Bluecoat Beechdale Academy, Bulwell Academy, Ellis Guilford School and Nottingham University Samworth Academy. Partnering with local employers including Nottingham City Homes and Boots, young people will benefit from targeted ready for work activities including, business mentoring, work experience placements and entry level jobs.

Partnership opportunities

The programme’s success depends on partnerships between schools, existing support providers and local employers. ThinkForward is seeking cornerstone funding to match funds raised from The Careers and Enterprise Company, Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation and schools to run the programme for the next five years. Local Business Champions are also being sought to provide skills based volunteering.

I am excited about working with ThinkForward, so that together our students most at risk of future unemployment are able to benefit from support with transitioning from school to employment or training.” Paul Halcro, Principal, The Bulwell Academy

To find out more about partnering with ThinkForward and to get involved in the launch contact Hannah Sharp – hannah.sharp@thinkforward.org.uk 

If you are interested in joining the ThinkForward team in Nottingham you can find more details about the job roles here.

Should schools be held accountable for the progression of their students?

With the recent report by Impetus-PEF on how too many disadvantaged young people are failing to transition from school to work and the news the Ofsted and the Department for Education are “going to war,”  you can be sure that this debate is only going to get bigger.

As a charity it’s often hard to work within the framework of the big picture as so much of our efforts are put into ensuring we reach the most disengaged young people and help them successfully transition from school to work. However these two publications have given us some time to reflect. Our experience is that the most disadvantaged young people need long term, targeted support to enable to enable them to overcome significant challenges both at home and at school, and eligibility for Free School Meals is only part of the challenge. Our rigorous ‘risk of NEET’ scoring matrix takes into account many other risk factors including Special Educational Needs and whether they are known to social services to identify young people who need specific support. Due to these background factors, the young people we work with frequently have poor engagement with school, characterised by low attendance and disruptive behaviour.

Taking this all into account we know that lack of such support is not the only factor ensuring young people are ready for work when leaving school. Our engagement with businesses is equally important, for a number of reasons:

  • Young people we work with often have limited aspirations and a lack of diverse roles models in the world of work. Which is why we provide opportunities for young people to visit businesses and people they wouldn’t otherwise engage with, widening the range of careers they would consider.
  • Engaging with businesses helps young people appreciate the importance of academic attainment for their future careers and feedback from our school leads is that this can have a transformational effect on young people’s engagement in education and increase their likelihood of achieving qualifications at school.
  • We also educate employers about the requirements of recruiting for apprentice positions and the possible additional support which might be needed for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Finally, our support for young people continues once they are in entry level jobs. (Issues of which are detailed on p15 of the Impetus-PEF, Life After School report)

In terms of the shaping policy, we know many young people are failing and will continue to fail in the transition from school to work across the UK until such issues can be addressed on a much larger scale. Which is why we pose the question: should schools should be accountable for the progression of their students after they leave school? Impetus-PEF’s paper and our model have proven it is essential for schools to track the progression of their students. Evidence has shown that if young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to early long term support that despite predictions, they can successfully achieve at school and transition into employment. One of our partner schools has been leading the pack by setting themselves an internal KPI of pupils’ destinations.  It is this kind initiative taking that will enable schools not only to have strong stats but be able to track and react when research like Impetus-PEF’s highlights worrying national trends.