Another Step Forward

Enabling Enterprise works to ensure that one day, all students are equipped with the skills, experiences and aspirations to succeed. Some days, that day seems a lot closer than others.

Today though, was one of those closer days. The uptick in my optimism was driven by the release of the third and final part of Teach First’s report on students’ progression beyond school – with this part focused on employability.


 Employability vs. Employment

The first thing that got me excited was the separation of employability from employment. To the uninitiated this might feel strange. But it is vital that we see the components of employability as being useful not just for employment but for everything that happens before then – including a child’s time in school and being able to engage with and access learning along the way.

The report makes sense of this well, sensibly breaking down employability into three components: Firstly, information and guidance on what students’ employment and study options look like after school and the requirements to achieve those. Secondly, the usefulness of linking academic study in lessons to real-world application, bridging the classroom and the real world. Thirdly, and most interestingly, the development of the employability skills that young people need.


Employability Skills

It is hugely refreshing to see this third element here. Too often, employability skills are an after-thought or a polite cough – in teaching we still too often see them as unteachable whereas the provision of information and curriculum tweaks are tangible and actionable. Too often have teachers told me about their natural team leaders, natural presenters or natural leaders. And, by implication, those who are not.

Enabling Enterprise does take students to visit employers, increasing their understanding of the working world. We also provide a curriculum used with over 60,000 students last year to link classroom learning to the work of over 100 employers. But our primary focus is on building the skills that students need: Eight vital skills that we call the ‘enterprise skills’ but are equally life skills, soft skills, employability skills or achievement skills. They are: Teamwork; Leadership; Presenting; Understanding Others; Creativity; Problem-solving; Aiming High; and Staying Positive.


Teaching Skills

And the jury is very much in on their teachability: Recent work by the Jubilee Centre has confirmed that skills can be taught, and there is a growing body of evidence on individual skills – including the essential building blocks of resilience and empathy that the rest are built from. In this last year alone, Enabling Enterprise has tracked the skills of over 5,000 students across the year to see that not only are these skills teachable and measurable, but that it is possible for students, irrelevant of background, to be put on a successful trajectory for the future.

The Report highlights two of the key approaches that we have taken at Enabling Enterprise – adding rigour to employability skill development through measurability, and starting young from the age of 5. Together these make a huge difference, making the development of employability skills a key part of a students’ whole experience of school and also unlocking learning along the way. Of course, the skills at the beginning aren’t about employability at all – they’re about being empathetic and resilient. But they are the building blocks of success in school and thereafter.  

To really make the difference though, there are three equally vital principles to make the development of employability skills really effective in school: Firstly, to choose a limited number of skills to focus on (we think eight is an upper limit) and use this consistently. Secondly, to use the understanding built by measuring students’ skills to really keep them working in their stretch zones – not just doing activities but actually building their skills. And finally, to show how those same skills are useful in school and in whatever they want to do next.


Looking Forwards

There is still a lot of work to be done. But we have seen that individual students can transform their skills, that this can be the case in whole classrooms, and in whole schools. We hope this report will be another nudge towards ensuring that one day, all students are developing the employability skills they need to succeed. .



Enabling Enterprise is an award-winning partnership of 230 schools and 110 employers, working to build students’ employability skills, experiences of the working world and aspirations. Find out more and get involved at


Tom Ravenscroft, Founder & CEO, Enabling Enterprise



Oxford welcomes this year’s significant increase in state intake but remains aware that there is still considerable work to do

Whilst we still believe that we can – and must – do more outreach, the announcement that this year six out of ten of Oxford’s undergraduate places (59.2%) were awarded to students from state schools indicates welcome progress. We now know a number of our initiatives, particularly those over the last four to five years, are paying off and yielding results. As a member of the Fair Education Alliance, we also believe that our work will help achieve Fair Education Impact Goal Five: To narrow the gap in university graduation, including from the 25% most selective universities. These encouraging figures probably reflect progress in two areas: the effective development of our outreach programme and the refinement of our selection process.

Last year alone, members of the collegiate University took part in more than 3,000 outreach activities across the country, reaching more than 3,400 schools and embedding their links with specific UK regions. This figure represents an increase of nearly 40% on that from 2011-12.

At the same time, our outreach has become more strategic and better targeted. The number of successful applicants who fall into one or more of our access categories is on the rise – this year over 34% of accepted UK candidates are from one or more of these categories.  Our UNIQ summer school participants have an average offer success rate of more than 40% (against an overall success rate for Oxford applicants of around 20%). 43% of the high achieving BME students on our 2015/16 Target Oxbridge programme have accepted offers to Oxford.  Colleges are collaborating closely on a number of initiatives including OxNet. This offers academic enrichment and applicant support to schools in parts of London and the North West and has seen a significant increase in applications to Russell Group universities since it began.  

In support of these outreach initiatives, we have also reviewed our selection process. We work hard to ensure candidates are compared against each other fairly - for example we have pioneered the use of contextual data amongst UK universities. This means that wherever possible our tutors consider a candidate’s attainments within the context they are achieved. We have embedded interview training for admissions tutors to make them more aware of unconscious bias. Candidates are routinely given several chances to show their ability to different groups of interviewing tutors.

Though these figures are encouraging, and we are proud of the progress we have made, they will not make us complacent.  As well as continuing to monitor our state/independent school mix, we will also evaluate our outreach work robustly to ensure that we focus effectively on the most disadvantaged students and in areas where improvement is still needed. In order to avoid duplication of effort and to maximise the use of resources, we will also further explore opportunities for effective collaboration with colleagues and other HE partners.

Finally, I would add that whilst we can improve the fairness of our selection system and work hard to increase aspiration, particularly amongst under-represented students, our success will always be limited by inequalities of opportunity and attainment, so long as these persist in the UK school system. However committed, Oxford cannot address the UK social-mobility issues alone.


Dr Samina Khan

Director of Outreach and Undergraduate Admissions, University of Oxford

5th Anniversary celebrations at Tutor Trust


The Tutor Trust is overjoyed to be celebrating exactly 5 years since our Co-Founders Nick Bent and Abigail Shapiro secured our prestigious launch grant from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) on 7th September 2011.  That was the day that we began work tackling the serious education inequality in Britain.

Upon receiving the grant, The Tutor Trust was registered as a charity at the end of September 2011; we delivered our very first tuition session in February 2012, at Whalley Range High School for Girls in Manchester.

Since then, Tutor Trust has:

  • Recruited and trained over 1,000 tutors, mostly talented university students
  • Provided over 50,000 hours of academic tuition to schools
  • Supported over 10,000 pupils
  • Partnered with over 250 primary and secondary schools
  • Opened an office in Leeds (2015) and worked with over 20 schools already
  • Grown to a staff team of 11
  • Secured further funding from EEF for an independent evaluation of our tuition during 2016/17, involving 100 primary schools
  • Seen our first ever tutee become a tutor – the first of many!

As one of the most exciting and innovative social enterprises in Britain, Tutor Trust’s impressive work has already been recognised further afield.  In the 2016 Charity Times Awards we are a Finalist in the 'Best New Charity' category.  Locally in Manchester, we have been nominated for a 2016 'Spirit of Manchester Award' by MACC, for our commitment to partnership working.  Both sets of awards will be decided later this autumn.

Across big cities like Greater Manchester and Leeds, educational disadvantage is acute, and the percentages of looked after children and pupils on free school meals who secure the basic qualifications necessary to give them decent choices in life are shockingly low.

Tutor Trust redresses this injustice by making sure every child who needs some additional academic support can get a great tutor.  It should not just be middle class children who get the benefits of one-to-one tuition.  Schools that want to bring in tutors should not have to resort to faceless, profit-making tuition companies.  We are a radical new delivery model, with the potential to help tens of thousands of young people across Britain.

By way of illustration, this year saw our first ever tutee become a tutor. MJ, from a Somali refugee family in Manchester, got a C in English GCSE after six months of help from Tutor Trust.  So he was able to do A-Levels and is now at the University of Manchester - he's also one of our Maths tutors, working with pupils at his former high school.

Once a small Manchester-based charity, we have now worked in all ten local authorities across Greater Manchester and expanded into Leeds as well, where we have been delivering tuition for over a year.  On top of the EEF launch grant, additional start-up funding was provided by the Oglesby Charitable Trust, SHINE and Manchester Airport Group, plus pro bono support from firms such as PwC and Pannone Corporate.

The raw figures of our progress are astounding to consider; we have now delivered over 50,000 hours of tuition in English, Maths and Science; over 1,000 tutors recruited and trained; our tutors have helped over 10,000 pupils; and we have worked in 250 Primary and Secondary schools.

One of our key partnerships since the start has been Teach First, and Tutor Trust is now an important source of fantastic new recruits for the teaching profession, as so many tutors get the teaching ‘bug’.  In 2016, one quarter of all the new teachers recruited by Teach First in Manchester were Tutor Trust tutors.

After only five years, we are all immensely proud of the amount that The Tutor Trust has achieved.  Our Co-Founders Nick Bent and Abigail Shapiro said:

“After five years, The Tutor Trust has surpassed all our expectations in its success.  We are so proud of all the incredible work our tutors do in schools.  We have an outstanding team here, but there are many partners to thank – not least the EEF, without whose grant we would never have been able to begin to realise our charitable mission.  Over the years we have been lucky enough to work with so many amazing, like-minded organisations, from Teach First to SHINE, and Frontline and we cannot wait to see what the next five years will bring.”

We aren’t the only ones who think The Tutor Trust is impressive! Nominated for both the 2016 Charity Times Awards’ ‘Best New Charity’, and the Spirit of Manchester’s ‘Best Partnership Initiative’ accolades, our achievements are being recognised by many leading charity and educational faculties – The Tutor Trust is proud to be a member of the Fair Education Alliance, as well as a partner of the Universities of Manchester and Leeds.

Looking at the growth and achievements of The Tutor Trust since 2011, we are looking forward to another exciting five years here at the Tutor Trust; with two award ceremonies coming up, as well as the launch of a major evaluation of our work, namely a randomised control trial that will involve 100 primary schools across Greater Manchester and Leeds and which will be carried out by York Trials Unit and Durham University.  This is another reason to be thankful to the Education Endowment Foundation, who are funding this independent research – we are looking forward to seeing more and more evidence of our impact on education.  Here’s to another five years of success!


The Tutor Trust

Why A-level results day is one of the most exciting days of the year

For me, A-level results day is one of the most exciting days of the year – but for the young people I will be spending it with, it might be the single most important day of their lives so far.

Like tens of thousands of 18-year-olds across the country, I will be getting up early and heading into school -- I'll congratulate students who are celebrating great A-level grades, and give some on-the-spot support to those who didn't do as well as they had hoped and might need to go into clearing for a university place.

This is part of my job: I run a charity called The Access Project that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds reach selective universities. We do this by matching them with local graduates who volunteer to give one-to-one tuition in the subjects that students need most help with.

We focus on selective universities because the evidence suggests strongly that if you are a young person with the potential to go on to a selective university, this is on average the best option you can take in terms of future career earnings and access to the professions.

Unfortunately, access to these institutions is hugely unequal. On A-level results day last year, your postcode more or less defined your likelihood of going to a selective university: if you were from a poor home, you were 6 times less likely to go on to a selective university than a young person from a rich home.

If you believe talent is distributed equally across neighbourhoods across the country, this is simply a staggering injustice.

This is why The Access Project works directly with schools and young people to make a difference to these odds, and why the Fair Education Alliance has identified the importance of closing the gap in graduation from the most selective universities as part of its goal to close the gap in graduation from all universities. Over the next 12 months the FEA will be working on proposals around the use of contextual data in admissions, strengthening the evidence base around outreach work, and improving the quality of information, advice and guidance in schools as part of the solution to this issue.

But back to this A-level results day and those students who are heading into school. Imagine what it is like to be Atif -- one of The Access Project's Year 13 students at Moseley School in Birmingham. For context, it helps to know that Moseley School is on the wrong side of those statistics around university access: 58% of students have received free school meals at some point in the last six years.

But this year Atif -- following weekly one-to-one support on Chemistry from his tutor Henry in the run up to his A-levels -- has an offer to study Medicine at the University of Nottingham. This is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that he has had to balance studying with his responsibilities as a young carer for his mother who has epilepsy, and his sister who has Down's syndrome. Atif’s decision to study Medicine was driven by his many experiences of time in hospital with his family, which he says made him committed to “giving something back”. I find it impossible not to be inspired by the talent and sheer hard work that it’s taken to get so close.

So if you do think about A-level results day today, think about Atif and the hard work it takes to overturn the odds that are stacked against young people who don't come from affluent homes - and like me, keep your fingers crossed.

If you would like to use your skills to make a difference to a student like Atif – get in touch with us at to find out more.

Andrew Berwick 

Director of The Access Project


Increasing the pool of male applicants to university

Over the summer we have seen the publication of two reports focusing on the gap between boys and girls in terms of reading and in the number of male applicants to university.  We are also about to witness a further decline in the number of white working class boys entering university.  Save the Children’s ‘Lost Boys’ report indicated that there is up to a 17% gap in attainment between boys and girls in areas with high levels of poverty.  King’s College and LKMCo report that there is a significant under representation of white working class boys in higher education.  The issue is cyclical – lower numbers of boys achieving expected reading levels leading to lower numbers of white working class boys applying to university perpetuating the number of boys heading for manual roles or worst still, unemployment.   As a consequence, there is a demonstrable impact on the aspirations of the ‘working’ classes and the educational outcomes of their children.


Save the Children and LKMCo both identify ‘low attainment at school for much of the problem of low participation in higher education’.  This problem has been known for decades, the Aim Higher initiative through the 2000’s did little to address the issue nor has the ‘widening participation’ agenda impacted on aspirations or achievements of white, working class boys. If the pool of male applicants to university is to increase it is self-evident that the issue needs to be addressed at early stages of a boy’s life.


Save the Children recommend improving early years provision – from birth and pre-school, investment in evidence-based support programmes that train professionals to raise aspirations, increase access and improve achievements preparing all boys to be school ready.   It is my belief borne out by significant evidence that every parent wants the best for the child, whatever the challenges, needs or disadvantages that is their experience.   However, some parents, and practitioners in early years settings might need support in achieving the best.  The Achievement for All ‘Achieving Early’ programme has impacted on practice in 60 settings in poor areas of the country, resulting in parents, boys (and girls) improving their engagement with reading and learning ‘how to learn’.  With parents commenting that they ‘now know what it is to be different’, it is clear that change can happen.


LMKCo recommend improving primary aged children experience of higher education – I have witnessed the impact of Primary Futures programme, which has done much to improve the aspirations of boys, impacting on their aspirations.  There is also considerable evidence cited in Sutton Trust reports on the impact of teachers aspirations for their pupils.  The ‘can do’ approach rather than ‘because of your background’ excuses.  Many of the boys who have broken through the class barrier will have done so because of the aspirations of their teachers, and their ability to find the greatness that exists in every boy, dig it out and share it with the world.


If we are committed to improving the outcomes for boys it is clear from both reports and other research that investment in developing early years practice is needed.  The increase in provision for 2 and 3 year olds is to be applauded,  it is now time to increase training opportunities at a local setting level, building on the fantastic commitment of early years teachers to improving outcomes.  It is only by bringing together parents and carers, teachers and leaders to improve their understanding of what can be done to improve aspirations, access and achievement in the early years that the next generation of boys will be ready to apply to university.

Professor Sonia Blandford – CEO Achievement for All, former Pro-Vice Chancellor Canterbury Christ Church University