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An update from our CEO on the SMF response to coronavirus

Today marks three months since I joined the Social Mobility Foundation. Events haven’t exactly followed my 100 day plan, but I’m enormously proud of the way that the team I joined so recently has responded to the impact of coronavirus on our organisation and our core programme.

We have been so grateful for the support from our employer partners over the past few weeks and have been humbled by their openness to discussions about adapting the programme in partnership with us, despite the challenges they are also facing.

The young people on our programme were already at a significant disadvantage, despite their academic potential and determination. The cancellation of exams and the closure of schools and colleges will further widen the gap for our students.

We have surveyed our student cohort to establish what online access they have now that schools and public places are closed, what their home environment provides in terms of time and space to work, and what their particular concerns and needs are at the moment. They have told us the support and guidance they get from our programme is more important than ever. We are using that insight to shape the changes to the programme over the coming months, including contingency planning should summer activities not be able to go ahead; we will continue to shape the programme as the picture changes.

We are designing a virtual programme which meets the key student competencies in our skills framework, and includes

  • Virtual events and workshops working in partnership with employers
  • Virtual work experience with partner employers
  • Virtual university open days
  • Online content, advice and resources to support professional skills development and effective preparation for university
  • Online evaluation

We are continuing our well-established e-mentoring for sixth form/S5-6 and undergraduate students, university and job application support, and personal statement and CV checking which have always been delivered online.

A small number of student competencies are more difficult to deliver through a virtual programme, such as networking and work shadowing; we remain hopeful we can run these events and activities later in the summer or in the autumn.

We’re committed to supporting these young people to fulfil their potential and are embracing the challenge of delivering that in a different way and through uncertain times. We know that the impact of coronavirus on our economy and our society will be long term and we will continue to work with our funders, partners and supporters to respond and adapt to the needs of our students, who have so much ambition and determination to succeed against all the odds. We are so grateful for the continued support.

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