Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 13.11.26North East-based qualification provider, NCFE, has lent its support to a local Dragons’ Den style event hosted by Teach First, which saw a group of early-stage social entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of ‘Dragons’ at Gateshead Old Town Hall.

The group has been working together for the last six weeks to generate and develop new ideas for projects they want to pilot in their schools and communities, with the aim of supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to progress into education, employment or training.

Attendees pitched their ideas to David Grailey, Chief Executive of NCFE – one of the UK’s leading awarding organisations – and the five other Dragons, who gave enthusiastic and constructive feedback to help the delegates move forward.

They also helped the Teach First Innovation Team to make the decision to award all three ideas – Windows into Work led by Lindsey Peek, Apps4Gaps led by Paul Mallaband and Lunchtime Talks led by Adele Barnett-Ward – support in terms of mentoring and valuable contacts.

In addition, Apps4Gaps was awarded a grant of £400 to support its pilot in the coming months.

The event formed part of Teach First’s innovation series in the North East, which is the first stage in a pipeline of activity carried out by its Innovation Unit to inspire and nurture ideas to help end educational disadvantage.

Paul Green, North East Director of Teach First, said: “We had a fantastic panel made up of Teach First, NCFE and Cardinal Hume Catholic School. We were all blown away with the dedication and passion put into project ideas to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to progress into meaningful education, employment or training after compulsory education.

“We want to congratulate all three ideas, Windows into Work, Apps4Gaps and Lunchtime Talks. All three will have their plans piloted into schools and communities across the area, with mentoring from a social enterprise expert.”

David Grailey, Chief Executive of NCFE, commented: “As a locally based organisation with a strong focus on innovation, we are always keen to participate in events like this one which celebrate and reward new ideas that improve young people’s prospects and development.

“The panel and I were extremely impressed with the calibre of projects pitched. I believe that Windows into Work, Apps4Gaps and Lunchtime Talks are all deserving winners and wish them all the best with their pilot schemes.”

For more information on NCFE, visit www.ncfe.org.uk or call 0191 239 8000.