A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to attend The Prince's Seeing is Believing Mosaic school visit. The Prince's Seeing is Believing programme has been running for over twenty years. It is a great opportunity for senior leaders to see for themselves how business can play an important role in tackling some of Britain's most pressing social issues in some of the UK's most deprived areas. The primary goal of the visit was to raise awareness amongst the senior business leaders on the issues facing young girls in our most disadvantaged communities and how Mosaic is seeking to address them. I for one came away with valuable insight into the ways that I can respond to the issues presented on the visit.
The morning started early at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington where we heard opening remarks from Mosaic's National Director Jonathan Freeman and from David Harris the CO-CEO of Hogan Lovells Internationals LLP who was leading this visit. Until we visited the school that morning, I, like many others, always thought of Islington as an affluent part of London. So I was surprised to hear that at this school 54% of pupils are on free school meals with over 60 languages spoken. The remarkable head teacher, Jo Dibbs, told us of the impact that EGA school has on its pupils and of the positive part that Mosaic plays in that.
We then heard from the school girls taking part in Debate It!, a programme that encourages confidence and aspiration amongst the pupils. There were two equally challenging themes for discussion. Firstly we discussed whether now was the worst time to be a young girl in London, which was followed by a discussion on whether it was more important to be beautiful than it was to be clever. For and against speeches were both passionate and moving, with the school demonstrating to us clearly why Michelle Obama came to visit this school and its articulate pupils a few years ago.
Our next stop was Thomas Buxton Primary School in Tower Hamlets. Once there, we heard from Lorraine Flanagan who explained the background to the school and also shed some light on the benefit that girls and mothers receive from participating in the Mosaic Primary School Mentoring Programme. In what was one of the most important moments of the day the girls heard from Baroness Scotland, the former Attorney General and the first woman to hold the office since its foundation in 1315, who was also one of the Seeing is Believing delegates. She spoke of what it was like for her growing up in London and spoke to the girls about following their dreams
As a dentist, however, I saw some additional benefits to Mosaic's Primary School Mother and Daughter Mentoring Programme. It is widely acknowledged that one of the greatest indicators of dental disease is socio-economic status and education. Through the Mosaic Primary School Mentoring Programme, we are seeing mothers become more confident and articulate and developing greater aspirations not only for themselves but for their daughters also, as well as wanting to improve their own and their daughter's education levels. Through working hard to raise the education levels of children, the language skills of their mothers and their socio-economic levels overall, not only is Mosaic raising the self-efficacy and employability of these schoolgirls, but it is also playing an important role in reducing health and dental inequality.
Throughout the day I was able to see Mosaic's work at its very best, bringing together leaders from across the political spectrum to share a common and uniting goal. Exceptionally well led my National Director Jonathan Freeman, Mosaic has a dedicated and hard working executive team managing an incredible and sometimes grinding workload. My experience of the Seeing is Believing visit has only encouraged me in redoubling my efforts to make sure that we do all that we can to ensure that Mosaic is able to serve tomorrow's leaders. What Mosaic relies on is the commitment of its volunteers and first and foremost we need colleagues to offer their time as mentors. If like me you are passionate about making sure that all children have the opportunity to fly as high as they might and to live their dream and not be held back by their background, then visit the Mosaic website at www.mosaicnetwork.co.uk and sign up to get involved today.