Since 2019, The Portal Trust has helped support Future Frontiers to deliver career coaching programmes to over 300 disadvantaged young people from inner London boroughs.
We attended a coaching session in-person and spoke to one of the students, Simi, about her experience on the programme.
Read below to learn more about Future Frontiers, their coaching programme and the difference it has made for Simi.
Established in 2013 by former teacher Dominic Baker, Future Frontiers is a charity providing disadvantaged 14-16 year olds with career coaching and guidance to help them realise their potential and achieve post-16 qualifications that build towards secure and fulfilling employment.
Developed after Dominic witnessed first-hand the barriers that young people face to accessing careers guidance, Future Frontiers’ programme is specifically targeted towards pupils approaching the post-16 transition into further education or training. In particular, it seeks to reduce the number of disadvantaged students enrolling on poorly-fitting courses and dropping out of education, resulting in them not achieving good qualifications, which reinforces cycles of poverty.
During the programme, students receive tailored guidance from trained volunteer coaches from partner businesses. With these coaches, they complete a range of activities, all designed to help them take ownership of what they want to do and identify the different possible ways they could get there.
For example, students identify what motivates them in life, what they’re interested in and what skills they already have in a more holistic way of recognising value – e.g. by identifying skills gained through babysitting or sports clubs. Through this, the students can work out what it is they want to do and map out a plan A and plan B of how to achieve this.
One amazing opportunity included within this process is the sector role model conversation, where students can speak with a professional currently doing what they want to do in the future.
Simi’s coach, Matt, explained how this is important to the individual learning process as it enables students to focus on what is beneficial and helpful for them – including possibly figuring out what they may not want to do.
‘It was good to have them thinking this is not for anyone except me right now. It’s not I don’t care about this because it doesn’t impact me, or that the teachers are grading anything, it is literally just you have 20 minutes to ask someone who’s doing exactly what you might want to do, anything you want… You might find out it’s not what you want to do, but you can learn from that too’.
This opportunity is an important part of the Future Frontiers programme as it not only provides personalised guidance, but CEO Dominic Baker shared that there has been ‘clear evidence that giving young people opportunities to meet relevant professionals helps to reduce the levels of NEET [not in Education, Employment or Training].’
At the session last month, we had the opportunity to hear from Simi, one of the students on the programme. Having previously not known what she wants to do, Simi has worked out that she would like to be a sports nutritionist and has mapped out the different ways she could achieve this with her coach.
‘I’m starting to build a very good sense of how I could get there. I’m currently in Year Ten, so I need to finish my GCSEs and pick whether I want to go to sixth form or college, then I could go to university or do an apprenticeship.’
In the sessions, Simi has also completed tasks based upon the kind of work a sports nutritionist may do in practice, including a calorie counting exercise for different types of athletes. This task enabled Simi to see the kind of work a sports nutritionist may do, but also the skills involved and whether she enjoys them.
Simi’s coach, Matt, explained that ‘in classes they have a specific criteria to do things… Simi did this task, which was heavily maths-based, and she smashed it. But if you look at her predicted grades she’d say she wasn’t feeling so confident in maths, however in this task she could actually apply it to something she’s very interested in.’ Simi herself added that she ‘found it really fun and it’s the type of maths I enjoy’.
It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can focus on actually achieving these goals, rather than trying to find them. It’s been really helpful and also really fun.Simi
Year 10 Student
We also asked Simi what difference participating in the programme has made to her. ‘It’s been really helpful because if I didn’t do this then I wouldn’t have taken it seriously and I would’ve been stressing in Year 11 trying to figure out what I what I want to do. But now it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can focus on actually achieving these goals, rather than trying to find them. It’s been really helpful and also really fun.’
It’s fantastic to hear the difference the sessions have made for Simi and we’re very proud to support Future Frontiers and the brilliant work they do. We're also very pleased to announce that we recently awarded Future Frontiers an additional £55,000 over the next two years at our June 2022 Grants Committee meeting.
If you’d like to learn more about Future Frontiers, click here.