I grew up in inner city Birmingham in an environment where, like me, most of my peers came from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Single parents and broken homes was the norm. Like many young people today, most of us were more concerned about managing the stresses and challenges of home life than we were about what was being taught in the classroom.
Our environment forced us to develop skills that would help us to survive and thrive in a very hostile, often uncaring and very real world that faced us day to day.
We developed those skills by harnessing and exercising the natural talents that we had. At the same time we were not consciously aware that we had those talents and how powerful and important for life these talents were.
We learnt to be salesmen and women. We became experts at negotiation. Having to fight our corner, sometimes physically just so that we could get our piece of the pie.
We learned to be resilient, and this quality of toughness or grit made it possible to survive and thrive in situations that our peers that were less exposed to 'our world' could not.
We learned communication skills
We learned to be creative
We had to create our own opportunities
Network with others, build relationships
Buy and sell products...
...in order to maintain the lifestyle we wanted.
Sadly, these skills and talents and the energy that we had, were never harnessed by the school system, in fact they were suppressed.
There were some teachers that recognised our gifts and appreciated them.
On the whole though, the system didn't have the capacity to accommodate the less academic children from disadvantaged backgrounds and they were ejected as 'malfunctions'. They were not going to be able to confirm.
The reality is that as I go around schools across the country today I see the cycle repeating itself.
Time and time again. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, unable to fit into the mainstream system whilst being expected to do so.
Talented, gifted, creative, artistic leaders, that don't fit in or are unable to conform.
There are many teachers that recognise the potential in these young people and do their best to help them, but still many are not given access to the kind of support and opportunities that they need.
For some young people, whose parents are having it tough, who are unable to flourish in mainstream education, a different kind of system is needed.
Not an inferior system. Not one that herds them all together and offers them even less hope.
We need another option that will focus on and encourage the natural, entrepreneurial, gifts so many of our young people have.
We need a system that uses those talents to empower them to grow sometimes into other academic subjects.
Our young people are crying out for a change.