Our vision is a world where a young person’s start in life does not limit their future.
Why we exist
Britain has a deep social mobility problem. We are working to change this.
Only one in eight children from a low-income background is likely to become a high earner as an adult. Across the UK young people’s experience and opportunities are closely linked to the status of their parents and the area they grow up in.
Our research shows that nearly half of pupils from the poorest backgrounds (on free school meals) don’t know anyone in a job they would like to do. We know this affects young people’s perception of their own ability, their expectations of future success, and the extent to which they value their school work.
Meeting former students helps to change this, boosting young people’s confidence and motivation, and helping to transform their life chances.
Our mission is to see every state school and college in the UK supported by a thriving and engaged alumni community.
Access to relatable role models broadens students’ horizons, helping them to imagine a world beyond their own. Having grown up in the same community and sat in the same classrooms former students are ideal volunteers to be such role models.
For generations, private schools and universities have effectively harnessed the talent, time and support that former students can offer. Since 2009, Future First has been making it easier for state schools and colleges to do the same.
How do schools use their alumni?
12 February 2018
Tendring Technology College, Essex, tells its story:
"We are proud of our students’ achievements and there is no better way to motivate and inspire them than by sharing the successes and experiences of alumni. Future First provided a great tool to enable us to do this."
- Jake Tharp, Information, Advice and Guidance Leader
“Tendring Technology College is an 11-18 academy in North-East Essex with 1844 students altogether and 300 in the Sixth Form.
As a College we are proud of our students’ achievements and there is no better way to motivate and inspire them than by sharing the successes and experiences of alumni. Future First provided a great tool to enable us to do this.
Future First’s Core package enabled us to establish a careers programme that works for all our students. It allowed us to develop and refine our provision to best fit their needs.
Future First’s expertise helped our staff feel empowered to take ownership of our alumni programme and go forward with the DIY+ package.
We promote the use of alumni for a wide range of events here at TTC, and it is fair to say that the students gain a lot from speaking to ex-students. As a College we believe in promoting the successes of our ex-students to our current students to help motivate them towards their goals. Our busiest event, the ‘Year 10 Mock Interview Day’, allows us to invite in many alumni from a wide range of sectors to talk about their career path since leaving TTC. The students thoroughly enjoy the experience and also get to develop their own ‘soft skills’.
We’re proud to have around 500 alumni signed up to our network. We organise key communications throughout the academic year to keep former students up to date on what’s going on at TTC and advertise events to support students. We now have a well-established calendar with key events, and The Digital Toolkit makes it so much quicker and easier for us to run them.”
26 January 2018
Colleen tells her story
“I used to think it was me against the world. Now I can see that other people have had similar experiences at school but have still done something cool in the future. It’s shown me that I’ll be able to get somewhere too.”
Colleen, Year 10 student, Neale-Wade Academy
Future First is pioneering a three-year project that will see alumni support a group of students from Year 9 through to Year 11. Participating students have been specially chosen because their schools believe that they will benefit the most from this opportunity. Former students will work with the group in a series of bespoke Future First workshops to raise their aspirations and help them overcome barriers to achieving their potential.
The Employability Skills Project, funded by Rothschild & Co through their UK Charitable Giving Programme, is taking place at schools in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall and Newcastle. The project will see these students benefit from the support of former students with similar experiences to them, throughout a crucial stage in their education.
Colleen, a Year 10 student from Neale-Wade Academy talks about how the project has helped to change her mind about what she can go on achieve.
“In Year 9 we got to go to three workshops where we worked with alumni to think about the importance of school for our futures and to hear about what they were like at school.
Some of them weren’t exactly good, but also weren’t really naughty either, and that was exactly like me! They showed me that, if I wanted, I could do something good in the future.
Now I’m working harder and being more good. Before these workshops, if a teacher used to shout at me I’d shout back. I used to think it was me against the world. Now I can see that other people have had similar experiences at school but have still done something cool in the future. It’s shown me that I’ll be able to get somewhere too if I put my head down.
When I think about my future now it’s different, I’ve got a lot more choice about what I’m going to do when I’m older, much more than I first thought. The alumni showed me that. They exposed me to loads more interesting jobs. I also got to find out about people who are successful but also had a bit of a tough time at school. I really liked hearing about the alumni’s experiences and getting some advice on how my life could work out. That’s what’s helped me!
I’m looking forward to the workshops in the summer and getting to talk to even more alumni and learn even more about careers. It’s helping me feel more prepared for the world of work, especially as I’ll be starting to look at what I want to do after my GCSEs.
After our workshops finished we got to go into Rothschild and meet their employees. I really liked this because some of them said they’d been difficult at school too and it showed me that if I work hard enough I could get to where they are now. Also, they weren’t just from London they came from all sorts of schools so it showed me that even if you’re from Neale-Wade Academy in March, you could still get somewhere like that. Anyone could do it!
I think that all students, not just those at Neale-Wade should get the opportunity to do something like this. It’s given me a different perspective and shown me that I can be successful in my future if I try.”
11 January 2018
Kingsbury High School, Brent, tells its story
“Looking at our Year 13s, I can see that the Alumni Day has had an enormous impact on them. It gave them role models, targets to aspire to and an insight into professions that they might not otherwise have considered.”
– Andrew Mitchell, Aim Higher Manager
Kingsbury High School is an inner London state school with academy status, in the borough of Brent. We have over 2000 students, with just over 400 in the sixth form.
We decided to start working with our alumni to enhance the induction programme for new Year 12s. We wanted the new sixth formers to meet former students who could inspire them, give them the drive to succeed and set their mind on emulating their successes. The school has a really interesting history having been in the public eye for all sorts of reasons. For example, it was the set for one of the original series of Grange Hill! We also have lots of notable alumni, particularly in the arts. George Michael, jazz musician Courtney Pine and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts all went to Kingsbury. I started working at the school in 1998 and joined Facebook as a way of keeping in touch with my former students. What I discovered was that ex-students were doing extraordinary things like working in the government and in the city as lawyers and bankers. Our proximity to the city was very helpful for that, we are lucky to be well placed and we have some really talented students. On that basis I suggested that an Alumni Day become part of the Year 12 induction.
To organise the Alumni Day the first thing we had to do was reconnect with former students. Our partnership with Future First was crucial in making this happen.
Each year we invite lots of people but we’re always surprised by how many appear! Usually we can guarantee at least 20-30 from different periods in the school’s history, people going back to 1960s/70s, but also some A-Level students who have just left. This means students can benefit from the experience of recent leavers who can talk in more depth about A Levels, BTECs, university life and apprenticeships as well as those who have more experience of specific professions or even running their own businesses.
We bring in half the year group and do a morning session where the alumni introduce themselves and talk about their education and career routes. We then break out so the students have an opportunity to talk to people in sectors that particularly interest them. We break this up with music and poetry performances by former students. I then bring the group back and draw on one or two alumni to go into more detail about their experiences in a Q&A format. We then repeat this with the other half of the year.
This year students heard from Christina Kumar, a qualified solicitor who is taking a year out to travel to the Philippines and fight against cyber-sex trafficking and Suraj Gosai and Jordan Douglas who have started their own, hugely successful online e-sports business. We also had two apprentices, which was great because it represented alternative routes to university. It was particularly useful for students to hear from people who had made careers out of cyber security, as it showed them how the job market can change. When those people were at school their jobs simply didn’t exist.
Looking at our Year 13s, I can see that the Alumni Day has had an enormous impact on them. It gave them role models, targets to aspire to and an insight into professions that they might not otherwise have considered. Students formed relationships which meant that they became part of a larger network, in some cases this even led to work experience placements. One thing we’re very proud of is that we are a state school but we have an incredibly strong networks so our current students know that they’re following in great footsteps.
Our alumni network helps us to dispel any apathy or poverty of aspiration. We can tell that the students see themselves having exciting futures.
The tangible benefits of our alumni network are really exciting. A group of students will be visiting the Foreign Office as a result of contact with one of our former students. Some girls last year gained experience in a former student’s commercial property business in Mayfair. This year we were granted an offer of work experience in a set of barristers’ chambers. So many students have had their eyes opened to career paths as a direct result of meeting alumni. One of our students just got into the Pathways to Law widening participation programme at LSE, which was something they heard about on Alumni Day.
For any student who is serious about going into law, we now have a huge network of students who studied Law or Politics. Our head girl last year is now at Queen Mary London and was able to meet with former students who went to Oxford and Cambridge to study Law, and one who now works in the government legal service. It allows students to develop their networks and it’s become a Kingsbury tradition to look out for each other. I should add that former students also visit annually to help students with their UCAS applications and this year, a former student who is Oxford graduate, contributed to our mock interviews for our current Oxbridge cohort.