My name is Tom Scott, and I run a charity called School Ground Sounds. The story starts during my second year of teaching Maths, in a school in Brixton. I was finding it really tough to keep on top of work and motivated. I became tutor to a student called Sitey, who had the most amazing, yet untrained voice. I had some background in music and film and there was this incredible recording studio in the school, which was hardly being used. I saw an opportunity to bring the students into the studio, and to record their music. So we started with Sitey, who was very keen. We filmed her singing ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke and the video was played in school assembly. From that point on, students and teachers got really behind the project. At the end of the year, I stopped teaching to focus on the project full time. We’ve now been a registered charity for 6 months and have worked with many schools in Lambeth.
Since starting the Teach First programme, I had heard of many teachers who had started their own social enterprises. Some were also music related. Having run a music website with one other friend at Bristol (Bristol Couch), I knew that I wouldn’t need a huge team to get the project running. I really enjoy the freedom of having a creative project that I can shape.
What are some of the struggles you’ve run into along the way?
I quickly realised that the demand is huge. Students really want to get involved with this, but sometimes it’s hard to reach all of those schools at once and I’ve found that the studio does have it’s issues, so we’re constantly on the look out for studios that are really well-equipped and ready to get behind this kind of project – that’s the challenge.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
The best thing about running the business is working with amazing young people and running a project that combines everything that I love doing, so music, film, and teaching – it combines all of those things and yeah. Just not knowing where it could go. The possibility of it being big is really exciting as well.
If you could have any enterprise related superpower, what would it be?
I guess it would have to be the ability to absorb all the information about all the music organisations out there. I think that’s it. Be Mr sponge man so I can soak up all the knowledge about charities, schools and organisations in London to give myself a good head start.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
Maybe that should be my power, being able to look forward! The vision is to scale up to North, East and West London as well as our base in Brixton. This would let us reach into schools in each of those areas. I’d like to be able to work with a few hundred students by then and to have a really strong network of committed volunteers who act as ambassadors in each of those areas in London, who go into schools describing the opportunity that we offer and getting as many of the students from disadvantaged backgrounds into recording and into opportunities that we offer.