The long-term aim of RAIS(Raising Aspirations In Schools) is to help children and young people become more thoughtful, confident and emotionally balanced in order to recognize, pursue and achieve their potential.

We provide for a wide range of groups working with children, young people and families. For us, society includes: children and young people, families, schools, voluntary and community groups, as well as health and social services.

Our main activities are aimed at capacity building and include:

  • Developing dialogue within families and schools, and between all organizations that work with children and young people
  • Supporting parents, teachers, and organizations that work with families to be in a better position to help children and young people enjoy and achieve in learning, and to develop personally and socially
  • Establishing effective networks so that the gains made are sustainable and leadership capacity is developed

To achieve these aims, we use a process of Radical Encouragement, which involves profound encouragement of dispositions and skills that are fundamental for continued learning.

We believe that any organization that wishes to improve the quality and effectiveness of the education it offers would need to adopt strategies that embody many of the principles of Radical Encouragement. That is why this work is important. We hope you will agree.

To discover more about RAIS, Radical Encouragement, or the Support that we offer, please select from one of the following options:

RAIS has helped me as a parent to encourage and support my children’s learning to such an extent that may well have altered the course of their lives.  This is certainly true of my daughter who has been able, by building confidence, to overcome problems in schools due to bullying, and to achieve more of her academic potential with greater understanding and support for her learning.


Berwick’s Raising Aspirations In Schools project

Our story began in the Berwick region of Northumberland when, in 1999, Headteachers of all 22 local schools supported a bid to raise educational aspirations and achievements in their area. The Steering Group was initiated by Elizabeth Brown, Headteacher of the Grove Special School. Working with Northumberland Strategic Partnership the group secured a grant from the Government’s Single Regeneration Budget via One North East, a regional development agency. The grant was sufficient to appoint two full-time consultants to support the aims of the project: James Nottingham and Michael Henry.

With the support of James and Mike, after-school courses flourished in the region as never before and a growing number of teachers began to report positive changes in both themselves and their pupils. But, it was when parents began to notice differences in the ways their children talked about lessons at school that RAIS became more involved with the community, parent, and community groups. The RAIS acronym was changed from Raising Aspirations In Schools to raising aspirations in Society, and so the organization that exists today was born.

Northumberland’s Raising Aspirations In Society project

Following a very positive evaluation of the project in Berwick, NSP provided substantial funding for expansion into other key areas in Northumberland where averages for family income, educational achievement, and progression to higher education are low – the sorts of areas often described in official reports as ‘disadvantaged’. The new team, having grown to eleven in total, adopted a set of approaches, tried successfully in Berwick, that they felt would give an immediate boost to the sorts of dispositions and skills necessary for intelligence, confidence and emotional resilience to flourish. These included philosophical inquiry, the teaching of thinking skills and coaching (a supportive process of setting goals, trying out, evaluating performance and trying again).

The balance of the work also shifted: from predominantly school-based inputs to a more even spread between schools, community groups, parents’ forums and voluntary groups, such that our main activities included:

  • Supporting school staff to make lessons more interesting, challenging and enjoyable
  • Helping parents to support their children’s learning more effectively
  • Developing youth groups and community leaders’ understanding of how children and young people can make the most of their skills
  • Encouraging all organizations that support children and young people to work more closely together so that no-one is left behind.

The result of our work so far is large numbers of children and young people in Northumberland having more belief in themselves, not being afraid to try new ideas, being much better thinkers, doing better in school tests and getting involved more with their communities and with helping councils to make decisions.

The future of RAIS – beyond Northumberland

Since September 2000, RAIS has been fully funded, allowing all of our support and training to be provided free of charge for people and organizations within our region. However, this funding stream ended in March 2006, so RAIS is seeking further funds from other grants, as well as advertising our services to organizations across the UK who wish to buy-in our support and expertise.

To this end, we have applied to the Charity Commission and to Companies House to be incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee. (similar to a charity but able to profit from some services in order to supplement others).

To find out more about our organization, or the services that we provide, please select one of the following options: