Jack Reynolds is FBB’s Co-Director, Co-Founder and Head of Operations and in September 2015 he finally began working full time for FBB after a year of having to split his time between FBB and running another charity. Jack’s full-time focus has paid off – with a great deal of FBB’s recent epic achievements coming since Jack has been able to implement the systems and processes to help improve the quality and extend the scale of our youth work. It has been a year of big learnings for FBB – and here are Jack’s top 5 learning’s of the year!
Football has to be a big part of the solution to educational underachievement – and we are only just getting started– At the start of 2015 we believed that placing a young person’s passion for football at the heart of their educational experience had to be the most effective way to turn around underachievement and disengagement. Having now delivered our football themed, literacy curriculum to 120 young people, I’m more certain than ever that we are at the beginning of a radical change in our society’s approach to educating young people. I’ve watched underperforming and disengaged children transform their approach to reading and writing, to performing and debating, and to creativity and team work. But we are still only reaching a tiny fraction of the 60,000 young people from low income families who leave school every year without the minimum of 5 GCSES. And the mainstream approach to education is still a long way from embracing the FBB way. The challenge for 2016 will be to ensure as many young people as possible get the chance to put their passions at the heart of their educational experience.
The best teams are built on shared values and different personalities – In the last 3 months of 2015, FBB went from having 3 staff members to having 10. On the Friday before Christmas, my fellow directors and I had the end of year development meetings for each of our team members. After 8 hours of in depth, personal and challenging conversations I realised that everyone at FBB is totally committed to and wildly passionate about supporting young people to achieve their goals and make their voices heard. But beyond that, there is a crazy range of personalities – from the introvert to the extrovert, the creative to the analytic, the optimist to the pragmatic, the organised to the chaotic. Long may it remain this way.
Passion can get you started, but you’ll need the right habits and discipline to keep on achieving – Ask anyone to describe what defines FBB and I’ll bet the word ‘passion’ will crop up in almost every conversation. Passion is a central part of the FBB way, but I’ve come to realise it is only of instrumental value. Passion only matters if you can translate that passion into sustained and purposeful work through establishing and maintaining the right habits. Passion isn’t joy and buzz, it is constant 12 hours days and a relentless drive to improve.
There’s a very fine line between enjoying your successes and lapsing into complacency – Strangely, many of my worst moments this year were in the aftermath of our biggest public successes – the Gary Neville dinner, the successful Angell Town campaign and the Football for All event. Those were the moments where it became harder to maintain the commitment and hard work which underpins any success. Public acclaim is a capricious friend – it can give you the confidence to succeed, or it can make you complacent and distract you from the pressing need to transform the educational performance of our most disadvantaged young people.
There’s nothing more challenging, more satisfying and more important than teaching young people – I suspect I’ll look back on 2015 as the year in which I worked harder, learnt more things, made more difficult decisions, and overcame more challenges than in any other year of my life so far. It has been amazing to lead an organisation in a period of rapid growth and change. But there is nothing I have needed to do as a Director that comes close to the intellectual and physical challenge of standing in front of a class of students in the classroom or on the football pitch and keeping them engaged and passionate. Equally, there is nothing I have done which has been as satisfying as seeing young people take on board your lessons and put them into practice. This is why I think our FBB teachers and coaches are some of the most talented people in the world as they do this every day at a consistently high level and are always working to ensure that the young people we work with get the best education and opportunities possible. That’s the FBB way!
Follow Jack Reynolds on Twitter at @OurManInBrixton