Foundation Futures was set up in 2014 by two specialist teachers disillusioned with the education system and how the most vulnerable were being let down and excluded. They are based in the Byker Wall Estate, which is listed in the bottom 2% of the government’s index of multiple deprivation. 53% of children on the estate live in low income families and 33% access food banks regularly. 10% of school aged children on the estate are excluded from school and over 65% do not gain 5 A*- C grades at GCSE (9 – 4 in the new grading structure). Only 11% of households on the estate have access to a computer, which further disadvantages local young people.
The Foundation Futures team already have a strong presence in the Estate, engaging with over 100 residents every week ranging in age from 4 to 96 years old. Their 2 youth clubs and supplementary holiday clubs are attended by around 40 children every week. They also run a Community Education Hub, a Friday Kitchen Lunch Club for older residents and a weekly educational programme for 10 young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training).
Foundation Futures aim to expand their offer through a new project: Foundation Futures’ Makes Stuff. Based on the work of Seymour Papert, workshops will be delivered using computers to aid learning by making things, and the sessions seek to act as a vehicle to engage young people and other local residents. The project aims to promote confidence in using IT, build skills for employment, whilst providing positive socialising and collaboration opportunities. By building and using computers then using them creatively to make other practical objects, participants will be able to see and touch their creations, feeling a sense of pride and achievement. This aims to be the encouragement needed to spur them on to wider projects with the support of local staff and volunteers.
In the longer-term, this extension of Foundation Futures’ work aims to be self-sustaining by offering income generating workshops to primary and secondary schools, as well as running coding, gaming and STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) holiday clubs in more affluent areas. The team also wish to include STEM qualifications and accreditation as part of their offer, ultimately seeking to create a more technologically skilled local workforce.