West London Zone is growing – in numbers and impact

As the new academic year gets underway, we take a look at our growing organisation, as well as the impact this has had on our programme

  • West London Zone is growing – in school numbers, team members, and impact
  • This aligns with our strategy of growth, where we continue to build a high quality programme and have a positive impact on children and young people
  • We plan on refining our model, gaining deeper understanding, before rolling out to other areas of the country  

What an exciting start to the school year it has been. West London Zone is growing again, both in terms of our programme delivery and our organisation. We are now in 54 schools, up from 44 in the previous academic year. Our team has grown also, to 95, as well as some significant additions to our team of trustees and advisors – all of which reflect our commitment to increase our reach and impact. 

Most importantly, all of this capacity building means that our aim of reaching 3,000 children a year by 2025/26 is on track, supporting them to build the skills and relationships they need to progress, socially, emotionally, and academically. 

A strategy of growth 

Where and how we grow has always been important to us. Key to our strength is our place-based approach, meaning embedding ourselves within specific communities, building out clusters of schools, joining up all the local resources available, and becoming an established presence in communities where they have previously been underserved. 

Artwork created by young people on our programme, representing the skills that we help develop - social, academic and emotional

However, we also recognise the significant opportunities to share our programme with more parts of the country, and our ambition is to test out a model based on our place-based approach in a number of new areas from September 2024. Our five-year strategy, set in 2021, provides the guide rails for this: develop and grow work in our current Zone, establishing a ‘centre of excellence’ for learning and insight generation and laying the foundations for scale; establish new Zones to test and refine our model around different local contexts and prepare for national scale. 

The core commitment of West London Zone, though, remains to continue building a high quality programme that consistently improves and has a positive impact on the children and young people we serve – we don’t want to grow for growth’s sake.

Expanding our workforce

First, building our team. We have been busy investing in our employees, developing and filling new roles as well as focusing on workforce satisfaction. Indeed, our workforce is expanding at such a rate that we needed to upgrade to a larger venue for our recent full team meeting, held in September.

West London Zone staff at our full team meeting in September

Our Link Work and Partnership delivery team has grown to include 18 new Link Workers, three new Link Work Managers, one new Area Manager, and a Community Engagement Manager, who will allow us to better adapt the programme to the local communities we work in. Link Workers are at the heart of our programme. We train and deploy them across our schools, where they serve as mentors to at-risk young people, design and facilitate an individualised two-year plan, and commission local community organisations to provide specialist support best-suited to their goals. Our new members mean we can reach even more young people within our community.

Back in the office, we are also expanding, with a number of new roles being developed and filled – with even more still being recruited for. These include a new Head of Strategy and Impact, Head of Public Affairs and Communications, and a Head of Public Sector Commissioning. And our new People and Culture Director will be helping to shape some of the strategies around this growth in our team, ensuring a consistent and positive experience for all. 

Expanding into our Zone 

Next, where are we expanding locally? Well, we are going deeper into our current communities by establishing a new presence within areas of our four boroughs where we can benefit. For example, we have added Newfield Primary to our existing cluster of schools in Harlesden, meaning our Link Work and Partnerships team in this area can grow their depth of local knowledge – to the benefit of the families we work with.

We also have a newly established cluster of schools around the Worlds End estate in Chelsea, a new area for us, which include Ashburnham and Park Walk primaries, and Chelsea Academy. We are already linking with local youth clubs and other potential partners to firstly understand perspectives from those communities, and also establish links with the best provision locally.

What does this expansion mean? 

Let’s use this Autumn term to reflect on this local growth and the impact of our work over the past academic year.

A view from the West London Zone office, looking out at some of the communities we serve

As the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that affected us all over the past few years, schools report that more pupils than in previous years have needed additional support in the classroom, both academically but also with their mental health. With our focus on getting young people back on track, socially, emotionally, and academically, our expanded presence within the schools we work with will be keenly felt. For this new academic year, nine schools have recommissioned new programmes (despite the current challenging financial environment) and two existing schools extended to add another programme. This clearly signals satisfaction with our programme and the positive impact it's having on children's progress

For the children and young people that we work with, our latest impact results for 2021-22 show some of our best academic outcomes:

  • Of those who started the programme below age related expectations in English, 71% improved their grades, and 62% improved so much that they are on track to achieve age related expectations by the end of primary or secondary school
  • Of those who started the programme below age related expectations in Maths, 65% improved their grades, and 53% improved so much that they are on track to achieve age related expectations by the end of primary or secondary school
  • 75% of young people who started ’at risk’ on our validated measurement scales moved out of risk by programme end in Emotional Wellbeing

These are great results, and we are confident that not only will we reach our target of working with 1675 children and young people by 2023, but that we will continue to show these tangible and positive outcomes. 

Expanding our ideas 

This local expansion is deepening our learnings, and supporting our vision to become a ‘centre of excellence’ in West London – which will ensure best practice continues to be captured and understood and shared. 

Our insight and impact remains a key focus alongside growth, and the depth we are creating through this delivery in our original zone is allowing for a variety of evaluations and insights generation, that will refine our model in West London, as well as valuable learnings for national expansion also. 

Sharing these learnings more widely will be a focus of articles this year.

Joe Prendiville

Business Development Director  

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