Originally published as a guest piece on the Teach First website – Richard Hardie is the Chair of UBS Ltd, Platinum supporter of Teach First, and a member of the Business in the Community London Leadership Team. He reflects on the role of business in reinvigorating the educational landscape in London.

our aim at UBS

Our aim at UBS is to overcome disadvantage by supporting education and entrepreneurship through funding and the commitment and skills of our people. In the UK we work mainly in our neighbouring borough of Hackney to increase the number of people with the qualifications, employability and enterprise skills, and the aspiration to achieve their potential. Janet Wigglesworth, writing about her experience as a Teach First Coach on the site here, is superb example of a UBS colleague, amongst many, who has become deeply involved in our programme.

Supporting Teach First

Our flagship partner is the Bridge Academy, a school we helped to establish in 2007. We decided to support all the Teach First teachers in Hackney because, as proved by the Sutton Trust’s research, good teaching is the single most important factor in transforming the life chances of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Teach First has a clear objective and model to tackle this; they match our goals exactly.

I was chair of the Hackney Learning Trust for several years and was very proud to see the transformation of education in the borough during that time. My grandfather and father were teachers and one of my daughters now works in State education so I have huge respect for teaching as a profession and for those who dedicate their life to it.

It has been marvellous to watch Teach First encourage even more top graduates into the profession and see them at work in schools in Hackney. About 20 Teach First teachers and alumni work at the Bridge. The Head of English, Bansi Kara, was in the first cohort of Teach First teachers and now writes about her experiences in the Huffington Post.

Supporting Enabling Enterprise

Alongside Teach First – we are very proud to fund and provide volunteers for Tom Ravenscroft and his organisation Enabling Enterprise. He started out as a Teach First participant in Hackney and as a result of his experiences decided that he wanted to transform the teaching of business and enterprise skills across many more schools. Enabling Enterprise is now one of the UK’s fastest growing social enterprises and in 2013 trained over 1,000 teachers to support 21,000 students in 147 schools.

London is in a unique position in the UK in terms of the concentration of global and national companies – who can and do provide funding for organisations like Teach First, as well as work experience placements and thousands of volunteers to support local schools. Many of them, including UBS, have sophisticated education programmes; London is a proving ground for them. UBS aims to work with voluntary sector partners with a national reach as a means of sharing experience with other parts of the country.

Our Next Steps

We want to see London’s experience replicated in the deprived areas of all our provincial cities and to develop technology to extend this to rural areas. Finally we are always ready to recognise any mistakes we make and to learn from others. That is why we are one of the founding members of Business in the Community’s Business Class as it enables us to bring together organisations that are keen to support education – and hopefully organisations like Teach First and IntoUniversity in their local areas.

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