Founder, Kiran Gill began her career teaching in inner-city London Schools. In April 2016, Kiran had left the classroom and was Head of Policy at the Social Mobility Commission when she had the idea for The Difference.
By January 2017, Kiran had raised enough capital to fund a research paper with think tank IPPR, to understand rising school exclusion and look for solutions to this growing problem.
Through a year’s research, The Difference gained support from teachers, schools, and businesses. The idea won the Teach First Innovation Award, and the concept was tested with advisers and specialists from a range of public service charities and organisations (see our supporters). By the time of the report launch, five of the biggest multi-academy trusts in the Alternative Provision and mainstream schools had announced their intention to participate in the Difference Leaders programme.
In October 2017 The Difference report into school exclusions was published. It was welcomed by former ministers and MPs from the three major political parties, including: Edward Timpson OBE, Robert Halfon MP, Baroness Shephard; Alan Milburn MP, David Lammy MP, Lucy Powell MP, Emma Hardy MP, James Frith MP; Norman Lamb MP, and David Laws.
Over the following year, exclusions rose up the political agenda. The Difference gained coverage of exclusions in The BBC, The Economist, The Times, The Guardian and others. Founder Kiran Gill was invited to give evidence to City Hall, the House of Commons and Ofsted on the issue of exclusions, knife violence, mental health and the outcomes of excluded pupils. By March 2018, the Department for Education asked Edward Timpson to formally review school exclusion and advise on a Governmental response.
Meanwhile, The Difference has worked to develop its programme further, hire a core team for delivery, and built a coalition of supporters across philanthropy, education and policy to support its work.
The pioneer cohort of Difference Leaders began their journey to improve outcomes for vulnearble children in September 2019 placed in nine local authorities across Greater London. Recruitment for Cohort 2, taking place in London, Yorkshire & The Humber, the North West and North East, is well underway and 20 more exceptional teachers will become Difference Leaders in July 2020.