In the News - Kate Campion-Smith

27th August 2010 at 01:00

Kate Campion-Smith, 25, is a science teacher at the all-girls Cator Park School in Beckenham, Kent. She was a Teach First appointment who left Cambridge University unsure of what to do. Five years later she has founded a charity and has just won the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust's Outstanding New Teacher of the Year award. Perhaps it's something to do with her science masterclasses, which involve exploding jelly babies, rocket launches and dissecting mice ...

Sweets, animals - you know your kids.

"It's funny, I didn't want to be a teacher. I just wanted to work for an employer who I believed in and who wanted to make a difference. Teaching isn't just what you do in the classroom - it's outside the classroom, too. For example, I do lots of Gifted and Talented events, run a debating club and get them to go to events they wouldn't normally go to."

It makes a big difference to them, then?

"Some of them had never been outside London before. Last summer I took eight pupils to Uganda to visit my charity, the Esuubi Trust, and filmed interviews with each of them afterwards. They said it was life-changing, and some of them said they now want to get into volunteering."

What got you into it?

"I spent a gap year in Uganda, working on small-scale projects such as WaterAid, but that wasn't enough. I was fortunate enough to be put in touch with a law firm that helped me register the charity in 2005, during my last year at university. I was incredibly busy but my friends were supportive and did lots of fundraising."

Money well spent?

"I set it up to bring hope to Ugandan orphans. There are various programmes but we offer education, healthcare and other activities for the young children. Our most recent development is an orphanage village, with a mother of the village. I have a team of seven local people in Uganda."

Who's 'we'?

"I founded the trust with the help of excellent trustees who are advocates and volunteers. They are a mixture of people with particular skills, such as a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher. Our long-term aim is to make it a sustainable project, but it's always a matter of funding. The hardest thing is knowing you can't do this for everybody. At the moment we have nearly 500 orphans in our care so we're developing a second orphanage."

Ultimate goal?

"We have a vision for every child of Uganda to have the love of a mother, the care of a family and the hope of a future."

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