Back to School Week Birmingham kicked off this week with a session at Kings Norton Girls’ school.
It focused on the dazzling range of career and education options open to young people today. Thirty Year 9 students – who are currently choosing their GCSE options – filed into the school’s learning hub to hear from eight very talented but very different alumni.
Ranging from a forensic scientist, a purchasing manager and a nurse to an animation expert and a CEO of her own lifestyle and wellbeing company, every former student had something valuable to share.
Some had overcome difficult barriers to get to where they are today. Samantha Peckham became a mum at 16. She now works for Highways UK and sits on the Women in Transport Board. You can hear her story on BBC West Midlands radio. Susanne Swingler was only diagnosed with dyslexia after leaving school. Now she is a qualified nurse and keen to impart some of her hard-earned wisdom to younger students.
While working with the alumni, the students were encouraged to start exploring their own ambitions, skills and strengths. The discussions started off shyly but encouraged by the alumni, the room erupted into an energetic buzz.
Before the session started the students were asked if they felt confident talking to others about themselves and their strengths. One student raised her hand. When asked the same question at the end of the workshop a tangle of arms went up. Three quarters of the class finished with a sense of self-belief that had been awakened by the alumni role models.
One student summed up the impact of the session nicely: “It built my confidence and self-esteem.”
See what Kings Norton Girls’ Headteacher, Ms Fox, has to say about the importance of alumni.