Adopt-a-School: A Movement to Change Education and Train Children for the Future of Work

Kitty and Yvonne co-run the Customer Success Team in Next Jump’s London office. Like everyone at Next Jump, they also work on culture initiatives alongside their normal job. Read Yvonne’s story of helping, and then running, the Adopt-A-School initiative in the UK with Kitty.

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One of the reasons I was attracted to Next Jump was because of the Adopt-A-School (AAS) initiative. Throughout my studies, I was regularly involved with volunteering programmes associated with children or teaching, so I saw working at Next Jump as an awesome opportunity to continue my involvement with similar charitable initiatives and programmes as part of my job. When our Managing Directors (Kevin and Tarun) announced that I would be co-captaining the initiative with Kitty, my Talking Partner, I was both excited and nervous!

Our goal with Adopt-A-School is to create a movement to get every for-profit company with more than 50 employees to adopt a state school. We started the pilot with our New York office three years ago, when we adopted PS119 in the Bronx. A year later, we scaled the learnings and started the initiative at our London office. We are now into the 2nd year of running the programme with Netley Primary School.

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Currently, we run an after school club at Netley, a primary school in London. Through our after school club, we wanted to inspire and encourage children, especially girls, to explore careers in STEM. In our after school club, we teach Year 1 and 5 students how to design, build and code LEGO robots to accomplish various task. At the end of the curriculum, the kids will go on and compete at the Lego League global science and technology competition. As part of the curriculum, the kids get hands-on experience with technology; we are also supporting them with the softer skills such as collaboration and public speaking.

One of my favourite things about Adopt-A-School is seeing the progress the children make, not only in terms of their technical level, but also with their confidence. Alongside the tech part of the club, we also run Toastmasters sessions to help the kids practise public speaking skills. On the day of the Lego League competition, the students will have to deliver a presentation on their project. Having these sessions gives the chance for all the kids to improve their public speaking skills, with the support of their peers and Next Jumpers. It’s really rewarding to see kids who initially struggled to get their sentences out now confidently stand up in front of their peers to speak.

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One example was Freddie, who when we started our sessions, was very shy in front of his peers and afraid to even speak up. By the end of our toastmasters session, he was able to come up with an amazing 30-second speech defending his choice of superpower if he was given one. Freddie took a calm and open stance in front of the other students, and even brought in a few personal stories. Congratulations Freddie, you smashed it! His growth was inspiring for the other children.

I can’t wait to see how all the kids continue to progress and grow. It’s been so rewarding to be part of the team and drive the initiative forward. Looking ahead, studies have shown that 65% of today’s students will be employed in jobs that don’t exist yet, so we feel that it’s important to support schools and help children prepare for the future.

Keep up with our Adopt-A-School programme blog, or if you are interested to join us and make an impact, apply here: www.nextjump.com/careers.

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