Team Up’s story is impossible to separate from that of our founder - Sharla Duncan


Sharla grew up in South London, where in her community a combination of poverty, crime and social deprivation meant young people were more likely to go to prison than to university. Her own academic performance and outlook as a teenager was transformed when she met Pavan, a medical student who committed to tutoring Sharla after school in core subjects. The results were phenomenal - from being at risk of leaving school with no GCSEs, Sharla achieved a string of top grades, and gained a love of science and of education that she took forward to university.

Sharla started Team Up (then called YELP Students) in 2008, as a second year undergraduate at King’s College London, and the first in her family to go to university. Driven by a desire to break down barriers to university for children from working-class communities like hers, Sharla approached a South London school (Lilian Baylis) and offered to provide tuition to children who needed it.

Sharla’s first tutee was Dana, who after being persuaded the sessions weren’t detention(!) quickly grew in confidence and began to improve rapidly. Before long, Sharla was tutoring a group of 5 young girls in Maths and Science, inspiring not just better academic performance, but also inspiring greater ownership over their education and their future. This didn’t escape the notice of the head - and soon, Sharla was able to recruit a whole team of King’s students willing to support young people just like Dana.

From humble beginnings, Team Up became a registered charity in 2012, operating across several campuses and in numerous schools providing tutoring in maths and English.  Since those early days, we have supported over 7000 young people, with the principle remaining the same as when Sharla first met Pavan - inspiring role models, working to increase the attainment and aspiration of young people, can genuinely change lives for the better.