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Helping young people flourish, outside the school environment

Once Reachers return from the adventure, their involvement with the programme does not end.

Reachers will be paired with a mentor, on an 18-month programme, to provide advice and guidance on university and work experience opportunities.

The primary focus of Operation Reach is the expedition itself. Reachers will undertake a 14–21 day adventure in a part of the world which is spectacularly beautiful, remote and very different from the UK.

Apply to become a Reacher…

The key benefits Reachers take away from their expedition...

Operation Reach is focussed on education, even if the students will not necessarily realise this. Experiencing a distinct environment is about gaining cultural capital. Each expedition is based in a country with significant, and outstanding, cultural heritage. In addition, each expedition incorporates a visit to one of the most well-known World Heritage Sites, i.e. the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu or Angkor.

The itineraries for the next expeditions will be finalised once the cohort of Reachers, have been identified. An example could be travelling to India: spending a few days in Delhi, including a day-trip to the Taj Mahal, before flying up to Leh, Ladakh to experience the unique, preserved culture of the primarily Buddhist Ladakhis, and undertake a demanding physical challenge such as the Markha Valley trek.

Completing a demanding physical challenge was the initial motivator for Operation Reach. One of the key differentiators between state and private schools is access to sport and outdoor activities more generally. Operation Reach takes students to parts of the world which are spectacularly beautiful, remote and very different from the UK. All the routes will be on established trekking paths, and the groups will be accompanied by two local, qualified guides.

A few days, anywhere from 4 to 7 depending on the itinerary, spent trekking through rural communities by day and camping in the evening is transformative. There is unlikely to be any mobile reception, certainly limited wifi, and very few opportunities to charge electronics. As such, the Reachers will entertain themselves in a variety of creative ways. The physical challenge will also help build endurance and resilience: having to keep walking each day after an uncomfortable night’s sleep or learning to cope with no access to formal bathroom facilities!

Example itinerary

Help broaden young people’s horizons

Who are Reachers?

This opportunity is open to all young people in secondary education but priority will be given to those who meet the following criteria:

Have qualified for Free School Meals and / or are potential first generation university undergraduates.

Will have just finished Year 11 or Year 12 at the time of the expedition (currently 2023).

Are forecast or have achieved, at least, eight Grade 5s at GCSE.


— helps build young people’s ability to cope with adversity and work through problems which life will present


— life, the more life experience gained, the better equipped young people are to engage in wider society


— positivity and aspiration to join competitive, rewarding opportunities


— exposure to culture and new situations is paramount to a young person’s ongoing success

High achievement

— facilitating young people to gain above the national average qualifications for their socio-economic background

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