What we do
Future First helps schools and colleges harness the experiences and skills of their former students.
Future First’s vision is that every school should be supported by a thriving, engaged alumni community. Our programme provides the infrastructure and expertise that make establishing these communities easy and inexpensive.
At the heart of our programme is a database management system, combined with email/SMS outreach. We work with every Future First school and college to collect contact details of leavers, as well as re-establishing connections with more distant graduates. We have developed a flexible timeline to guide schools and colleges through the year, working with them to track the destinations and progressions of their alumni, keep them engaged through regular newsletters, emails and SMS messages, and encourage them to offer their support.
Alumni can offer invaluable support in a range of ways, for example as career and educational role models, mentors/e-mentors, work experience providers, governors, or even fundraisers or donors. Further details on each of these can be found below.
|Career and Educational Role Models:
Alumni in jobs or higher education can be inspiring role models for current students, introducing them to some of the different opportunities available to them, helping to build their confidence and make decisions about their own paths. Future First can support schools and colleges in a number of ways, either by organising and facilitating assemblies or workshops for them, or by providing lessons plans and network-building resources for them to do so themselves.
Individual and small-group mentoring can allow students to learn from people like them, who have experience of the paths they are interested in. Mentors/e-mentors can provide an insight into both higher education and specific job sectors, as well as guiding students through decision-making and motivational issues. Future First will help support schools and colleges in matching alumni with current students, and provide resources on how to get the most out of the relationship. We have recently launched a secure e-mentoring platform in collaboration with the Brightside Trust, which allows alumni to give back, even if they’ve moved away from the area.
Locating high quality work experience placements is often a challenge for schools and colleges. Future First can ask alumni whether they would be able to provide work experience, work shadowing or internship opportunities to young people from their former schools, as well as lesson plans for alumni events on how to get the most out of these opportunities.
Many private schools and universities have been successfully mobilising alumni as donors for years. Our research shows that graduates of state schools and colleges are no less likely to give back but, to date, their old schools and colleges haven’t been as good at asking. Future First can support you in developing an infrastructure to raise funds for projects such as new sports facilities, or school trips, via donations or fundraising activities.
Schools and colleges often seek the help of volunteers to help with reading and breakfast clubs, trips, course support and more. Parents tend to be great volunteers and we believe that alumni can be too. Future First can send communications out to alumni to request volunteers at any time in the year and will provide resources on how to get the most out of them.
School and college management may benefit from the view of a former student who has first-hand experience of education in that environment, especially when planning major developments or dealing with difficult issues.
To sign up your school to Future First Networks, please click here.
Click on one of the case studies below to read more…
- William Ellis School
- Feltham Community College
William Ellis School
“I really enjoy going back into schools, meeting kids, offering advice where possible and feeling like I can help, in however small a way, young people make really important decisions” – Alumni Volunteer
William Ellis is an all-boys comprehensive school in the borough of Camden and is a member of the La Swap Sixth Form Consortium.
The school is a diverse one, drawing pupils from some of the poorest as well as some more affluent area s of central London. The proportion of students eligible for free school meals and those who speak English as an additional language at the school is well above average. William Ellis celebrates the diversity of pupils and is a specialist language college.
Future First has been working with William Ellis school since 2009 where we first piloted our work to raise aspirations and educate students about their future options. Since this time Future First has worked with approximately 1000 William Ellis students aged 14 to 18. Some of these students have now graduated from the school and will soon join the alumni community Future First has established so that they in turn can support current pupils.
In-school, Future First has provided a curriculum for over 1000 students in Years 9 to 13 involving over 50 William
Ellis alumni since 2009. Future First has engaged alumni with hugely varying skills and career paths, monitoring the educational qualifications of, and industries in which, alumni work in order to maintain and promote a diversity of role models for students. To date, Future First has run over 35 alumni events in school, focusing on promoting employability and transferable skills to pupils through relatable role models.
Future Firstprovides a great way for my pupils to learn about careers and skills. Former students can be inspirational yet approachable role models and their interaction with current students raises their aspirations about what they can do in the future” – Malcolm Rose, Deputy Head
Through William Ellis connections, Future First has created a range of work placements for William Ellis pupils, including over 20 days of work-shadowing opportunities with leading barristers.
In addition Future First has offered insight days to students at William Ellis through our network of corporate partners. These opportunities have included a facilitated work shadowing day at media law firm Finers Stephens Innocent for pupils in Year 10. For all of these students it was their first experience of work shadowing and all students said the day improved their confidence as well as giving them valuable experience. William Ellis pupils have also been able to access sessions and work placements at RBS, the Bank of England and Taylor Wessing thanks to Future First.
Following our successes at William Ellis School, Future First’s work has expanded now to serve six schools across the borough of Camden. In 2011- 12, two thirds of all secondary pupils in Camden will work with Future First and we will have over 250 school alumni volunteering at their old schools.
Feltham Community College
Future First was set up in 2008 to build networks of former students to advise, inform and inspire state sector students about their future options.
Serving a low-aspiration area on the outskirts of London, Feltham Community College is a large secondary school with a vibrant but challenging cohort of students, many of whom are still at the early stages of learning English. The school’s leadership team had identified a problem of under-achievement amongst key pupil groups and asked Future First to help address this.
Working in partnership with the Sutton Trust, Future First was introduced at Feltham Community College to raise pupils’ aspirations by celebrating the range of fulfilling and inspirational careers that former students have gone on to pursue. Our in-school alumni work was to be supported by a programme of out-of-school events that provided pupils with work-place experiences. Future First aimed to empower pupils to pursue their skills and interests and to motivate students to explore educational and career opportunities beyond the familiar area of Hounslow.
In our first year at the school, Future First built a network of 50 former students ranging from professional athletes to surgeons to oil explorers working abroad. We have engaged these alumni via a series of whole year interactive workshop assemblies for Years 9 to 12, working with over 400 students at the school. The curriculum developed at Feltham Community College focused on stretching students’ imaginations, helping them to explore the routes to which qualifications, skills and work experience could lead.
Future First also provided Feltham students them with tangible opportunities to further their personal development by engaging a variety of employers. Over the year, Feltham sixth formers attended Future First insight days at law firms Davies Arnold Cooper and Taylor Wessing and students with an interest in finance attended workshops at PwC, learning about HEADstart school-leaver roles at the firm. In addition, following an introduction from one of Feltham’s alumni community, Future First is working with 4C Associates to run an employability morning at the school.
At the end of our successful first year in Feltham, Future First started working with Feltham Community College’s neighbouring school, Rivers Academy (formerly Longford Community School). By developing a cluster in the area, Future First will further embed the alumni networks we have already built to become a long-standing and resilient part of the community, from which all local students can benefit.