Big Education Challenge:
Meet finalist Jonathan Harper

Read more about the Big Education Challenge

Jonathan Harper, aged 41, from Surrey, is a father and first-hand witness to the challenges parents and carers can face in feeding their children. He is launching CanTeam, equipping schools with a sustainable model to offer healthy and cost-effective meals to young people, their families, and the local community, coupled with promoting enrichment opportunities and supporting thriving communities.

“I’m proud to be a Big Education Challenge Finalist. Future Foundations is launching CanTeam to transform school kitchens into vibrant community hubs, by serving food after school, creating a sustainable solution to food insecurity, and transforming young people’s educational outcomes.”

About Jonathan

He is CEO of Future Foundations, and co-founded Global Social Leaders, which has equipped 10,000 young people to deliver 3,500 social action projects in over 100 countries. Jonathan has valuable insight into how to scale initiatives and the significance of developing young people’s leadership skills, citizenship, and community cohesion in today’s society.

The problem

Food poverty and lack of access to after school enrichment activities contribute to attainment gaps and negatively impact educational outcomes. Existing solutions focus on free schoolmeals and lobbying the government for change, but long-term sustainable solutions, embedded in communities, are needed.

The Office for National Statistics has shown that children in England who are eligible to receive free school meals go on to earn less than their peers, even when they achieve the same qualifications. This underscores the need for long-term solutions that provide access to nutritious food and community cohesion.

“My vision is to transform the role of schools into vibrant community spaces, starting with a core food offering, which can then be supplemented with wider activities. I believe that transforming the role that schools play will transform education.”

The bold idea

Addressing food poverty while transforming the role of schools in the community. Using a social enterprise model to raise vital funds for schools and using underutilised space.

CanTeam will provide opportunities for young people to prepare meals and learn vital skills while creating a sense of community and social cohesion. Schools will have a comprehensive managed service to address the problem of food poverty and transform the role of schools in the community by providing access to healthy and cost-effective meals, and creating a sense of belonging and social cohesion. Food will be offered alongside enrichment activities such as sports and arts.

Its social enterprise model will offer access to those who can afford to pay for the service and subsidies to families eligible for the pupil premium. Young people will be involved every step of the way through a youth board and assisting as apprentices in the delivery of the project.

“CanTeam will strive to create a thriving space and community hub that operates beyond school hours. As social spaces such as high streets diminish, it aims to establish schools as community – oriented service providers that generate social capital and offer declining facilities and services.”

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