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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.