The Prime Minister has awarded TalentEd founder Rafi Cohen with a Points of Light award for outstanding voluntary work. Rafi founded TalentEd, an education charity which connects expert teachers with bright students, in 2012, and has remained closely involved as a volunteer and Trustee since leaving teaching, alongside his career as a strategy consultant.
Whilst teaching at an inner city London school in 2012, Rafi saw first-hand how bright pupils from low-income backgrounds were not being stretched and challenged to realise their full potential. With 43,000 teachers leaving the profession each year, Rafi also recognised these expert teachers as a valuable resource and looked for a way for them to use their experience and passion to help young people and their communities outside of full-time teaching.
TalentEd was born to bring these two groups together, and in four years has improved the grades and future options of hundreds of young people across London and the south east. The organisation has also received endorsement from across the teaching sector, with Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector of Ofsted stating 'As an ex-Head myself, I know that there are many successful senior teachers retiring aged 55 or 60 who have energy, experience and passion for education.'
Whether from their experience as a teacher at a top independent school, or as a senior leader in a challenging academy, TalentEd’s highly experienced teachers add value to a school. At a time when independent and state schools are increasingly looking for ways in which they can work more closely, TalentEd offers an innovative solution by which knowledge and experience can be shared.
In their next phase of expansion, TalentEd have now set its sights nationwide. Today, the greatest educational inequality is found in rural and coastal areas, and TalentEd believes it is uniquely placed to tackle this problem, working with networks of retired and expert teachers across the country.
In a personal letter to Rafi, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I want Britain to be the great meritocracy of the world and a fundamental part of this is ensuring all young people get the best start in life. Your innovative work with ‘TalentEd’ is supporting the students who take part in your programmes to go as far as their talents allow.”
Rafi was delighted to receive the certificate and letter from the prime minister, but was quick to recognise those who work alongside him for the charity: 'It's a huge honour to win this award. I continue to be inspired by the work of our expert teachers, staff and board members and this is what drives me to continue volunteering with TalentEd, an organisation I'm truly proud to be a part of.'
Director, Joseph Kimmelman, said 'Without Rafi's vision and energy we would not have been able to unlock thousands of hours of expert support for the young people who need it most. I'm delighted that his work has been recognised, and I hope that this award inspires more expert teachers to get involved as we expand across the country.'