Opening doors to aspirations

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Opening doors to aspirations

First Star Academies UK welcomes support from Sir John Cass’s Foundation


First Star Academies UK is delighted to announce that Sir John Cass’s Foundation is supporting our plans for expansion through funding for First Star Academies UK over the next three years. The First Star model emulates the outstandingly successful First Star Academies experience in the USA where 100% of First Star graduates complete high school (compared to 50% of foster youth) and 91% of these graduates progress into higher education (compared to 10% of foster youth nationally). The successful pilot academy at St Mary’s University, Twickenham has established the Academy programme in England, winning the Whatuni award for best prospective student engagement in 2018. Sir John Cass’s Foundation funding will enable First Star Academies UK to expand to new areas of the UK, including other parts of London – opening the door for students’ aspirations and enhancing the life chances for students in areas of need.


First Star Academies UK Founder and Chair, Peter Samuelson, said

“First Star believes that the key to the door of happier and more viable futures for Looked After Children is in a focused, empowering approach with our university partners, nurturing potential and supporting their education. Sir John Cass’s legacy for the education of underprivileged children is a shining and very rare example of long-term and forward thinking. We are honoured by the faith placed in the First Star programme of Academies by the Trustees, and we tip our hats to the memory of a visionary thinker whose philosophy of education in society is as valid today as when he formulated his social purpose.”


Sir John Cass’s Foundation Chief Executive, Richard Foley, said

“The Foundation is delighted to be supporting the expansion plans of First Star Academies UK, having contributed to an earlier successful programme at St Mary’s University. Improving the life chances of Looked After children, and in particular, their progression into higher education is one of the Foundation’s funding priorities and wider strategic objectives.”


For further information contact:

Dr Lorna Goodwin

Executive Director

First Star Academies UK



Notes for Editors


First Star Academies UK significantly improves the lives of teens in care by partnering with universities to ensure that Looked-after Young People aspire to higher education and develop the academic, life skills, and adult support needed to successfully transition to higher education, adulthoodand employment.  The economic life chances of care leavers are very different from many of their peers and First Star Academies UK wants to reverse the trend where Looked-after Young People achieve below average outcomes at GCSE with 17.5% obtaining the basics (A*- C or above in English and mathematics) compared to 58.8% of all pupils (DfE, 2017 data)) and where only 6% enrol in university, and less than 4% earn a university degree.


Offering the only long-term UK university preparation programme, our strategic vision invites and encourages leading universities to adopt the First Star model in their widening participation programmes.


First Star Academies UK Founder and Chair, Peter Samuelson, says:

“University is the place to be if you are trying to encourage and give role models and show what excellence and ambition and the removal of the glass ceiling looks like to a young person.”


Making a difference

We cannot afford to fail our young people when approximately 50%of care leavers experience homelessness, incarceration or unemployment within the first two years of independence, contributing to the already high levels of poverty in the UK.  First Star Academies UK provides looked-after young people with the springboardthey need to flourish in life.


First star Academies UK believes in the limitless potential of our young people




Sir John Cass’s Foundation


Founded in 1748 by City of London politician and philanthropist Sir John Cass, the Foundation has a history of supporting pioneering initiatives to promote participation and achievement for the most disadvantaged young people in the capital. The Foundation is one of London’s largest and oldest independent education charities which supports disadvantaged young people in inner London through its grant funding to schools, organisations and individuals. By establishing innovative partnerships with educational bodies to improve attainment and access to opportunity for young Londoners, the Foundation also focuses on how successful interventions can be scaled at a national level.


Sir John Cass’s Foundation is delighted to support First Star Academies UK with a grant of £219,000 over three years. This grant follows from its support of the First Star Academy programme at St Mary’s University, the first Academy in the UK, to which the Foundation awarded £400,000 over four years in 2016. Sir John Cass’s Foundation firmly believes that First Star offers a unique and effective model for supporting Looked After Children to progress into higher education.


By | 2019-01-07T14:57:20+00:00 December 7th, 2018|News, Press|Comments Off on Opening doors to aspirations