Two former pupils of Skinners’ grammar have launched a new charity aimed at helping disadvantaged pupils gain good grades in GCSE English and Maths.
Founded by 20-year-old school friends Tom West and Sam Carter, who are both currently at university, Cornerstone has already gained the backing of their former alma mater to carry out its programme.
The first initiative is being trailed at Skinners’ Kent Academy, with pupils on free school meals being mentored free of charge by year 12 pupils from neighbouring Skinner’s grammar school.
The rationale is to provide the sort of additional tuition which is often the preserve of the well-off, explained Mr Carter, who has had first-hand experience of the industry.
He said: “During my year out after school I worked as a private tutor and I realised the drastically positive effect it could have on students.
“But it is extremely expensive and probably inaccessible to the pupils who need it most.
“So together we decided to find a way of providing a similar service to what I was offering but to pupils who in no way would otherwise be able to access it.”
Mr West added: “At the end of the day, we had the opportunity to go to a great school and get good grades.
“If we had needed tuition it would not have been hard for us to obtain. But we believed it was a little unfair that those who may need it the most cannot access it.”
Plans are underway to provide weekly sessions in the run up to exams for under-performing students, on a one-to-one basis, alongside holiday courses over the Easter and summer periods.
Willing teachers at the academy will help provide training for the mentors.
Long term, they hope to expand the programme to other schools and although the current mentors will work on a voluntary basis, eventually they hope to be able to provide material benefits.
Mr Carter said: “At the moment we are hoping people will be motivated to sign up on the basis of both giving something back but also the recognition they will get from it for their CVs.”
“Eventually we would like to be able to offer them some sort of reward system when we get established.”
However, neither Mr Carter nor Mr West plan on paying themselves a salary.
The pair have already received £5,000 in donations, some of which was used to draw up a legally binding constitution for the charity, plus the development of the website.
Mr Carter said: “At the moment we are doing OK for money, but soon we will start to need donations as we look to expand into other schools.”