FAQs

Why should schools get involved?

By signing up to Future First, you'll be joining a national cross-sector movement to fight educational inequality.

We'll work with you to build a thriving alumni community that will help you do even more for your students. We will provide resources, share best practice and guide you through the process of embedding alumni engagement across the school.

You will be able to build a sustainable network of former students that you can access for generations to come. Over 90% of teachers from member schools tell us that the work they did with alumni increased students' knowledge about career and education pathways and that hearing from alumni improved ability to make informed decisions about their futures.

Alumni can support you as:

• As role models
• As careers speakers
• Supporting lessons
• With work experience opportunities
• As mentors
• In volunteering
• As governors
• As fundraisers

What's provided as part of the membership?

We offer various membership packages depending on the level of support you need. If you're new to alumni engagement, we recommend our core service to get you started. This includes:

- Offering the support of an expert Alumni Officer to work with you to build, engage and mobilise your new volunteer community.

- Providing an online database platform to collect the contact and employment details of former students, keep those details up to date, communicate with the alumni via email and SMS and search and filter the records to organise careers workshops.

- Offering all the support required to enable you to invite former students back to act as career role models.

- Providing school staff with training on alumni engagement.

- Access to a toolkit providing detailed guidance, lessons plans, templates and resources to support alumni sessions; mentoring relationships; and work shadowing. The toolkit will also support you to recruit and communicate with alumni.

- An annual survey will be sent to all your former students asking what they’re doing now to help you track their progression routes and keep contact details up to date.

- Invitations to regional roundtables and conferences to share best practice with other participating schools.

Do you offer any additional services with membership?

In addition to our core membership offer, there are a number of additional services that Future First can provide for a fee:

- Workshops and Assemblies

Future First offer a variety of alumni- based workshops and assemblies for students. All Future First events are facilitated by trained, experienced and DBS cleared staff. In all sessions alumni play the central role in offering informal advice to students and sharing their career and education experiences through discussion and practical activities.

Each session is designed according to the needs of the student group and the curriculum can be adapted according to the school's needs. All of our sessions build students' confidence and enable them to see that 'people like me' can be successful.

Future First can design specific sessions to work with groups of students that you identify as having particular needs, i.e. students allocated pupil premium or gifted and talented students.

- Additional alumni posters

Future First provides two inspirational alumni posters to core members that showcase the talents of your former students for students as they walk through your corridors. Each one has a photo and inspirational tagline such as, 'I went to Grange Hill School and now I provide life saving medical care for my patients.' Shruti, Junior Doctor.

If two posters aren't enough, we can add more to your membership.

What's the school commitment?

We want to help every school and college build an alumni network that they will engage for the long term. To make this work, schools need to commit to making alumni engagement a whole school priority and dedicate staff time to running the programme.

Schools should appoint a strategic lead who sits in the senior leadership team to have oversight of the programme and an operational lead should be given approximately one hour or so per week to work with your alumni officer to run things day-to-day. If you're on core membership, your alumni officer could come and run a training session at an INSET day or all staff briefing to make sure all staff know how they can benefit from alumni.

Can you offer your services for free?

As we are charity and operate on a non-for-profit basis, we and unfortunately can't offer any free membership packages.

We are supported by sponsors and trusts to develop our current programmes, design innovative new programmes and packages that contribute to best practice and offer the latest thinking, tips and resources for our member schools and colleges.

What will the database platform allow me to do?

Our database platform is a core part of the service.

- It allows you to collect all your leavers’ information as they go on to the next stage of their education, training or career.

- It enables you to store your alumni data securely online and makes keeping in touch easy, so that you never lose track of what your students go on to do.

- You’ll be given a link to a page where your school’s alumni can sign up. It will ask for their personal details, information about their education and employment, the year they left and what sort of support they’d like to offer to current students.

- You’ll be able to login to view all alumni details as your network grows. You can search and filter your network of former students in a range of ways, such as by leaving year, what they studied at university, or what support they would like to offer. For example you could look for students who have left since 2004, studied science at A-level, and are willing to act as a mentor.

- You can send direct e-mails, updates and invites to your alumni through the platform.

- Our Digital Toolkit is also available on your portal. We continue to develop the toolkit in line with best practice, providing detailed guidance, lessons plans, templates and resources to support alumni sessions; mentoring relationships; and work shadowing. The toolkit will also support you to recruit and communicate with alumni.

How do I sign my leaving students up?

Our staff will provide you with the help and support necessary to make sure all of your leaving students are signed up.

Your current students can either sign up via a customised paper form or via an online form, which you can access via a link that is available on the portal. If you have core membership and you opt for using paper forms, you can send them to us and we’ll upload them for you.

We recommend briefing your students on the purpose and benefits of joining your alumni network beforehand as they will be far more likely to respond to the tracking survey we send if they are expecting it. Check the alumni portal for promotional materials and a template presentation.

How can I reach out to alumni who left long ago?

There are lots of ways to reach out to your former students including:

- Using Future First's press officer to contact local press

- Using social media

- Asking all staff to sign up those they are in touch with

- We run a national campaign to encourage people to sign up to #gobackgiveback.

Get in touch to hear more ways of reaching out!

Are alumni personal details safe?

We are committed to ensuring that alumni information is secure. We have put technical and organisational measures in place that are designed to safeguard and secure the information that we collect.

Individual student records will only be accessible by staff of your school and Future First. Every member of Future First staff with access to the data receives full data protection training.

Future First has been awarded the Cyber Essentials Plus certification. We are registered with ICO and you can find further details in our privacy policy here.

How do we arrange alumni assemblies and workshops?

We provide all school and colleges with an alumni engagement toolkit that includes a step-by-step guide on how to engage and mobilise the alumni on your database to give careers and university talks, to act as mentors, or to volunteer in other ways. You can run these events yourself at no extra cost, or run them with the support of our trained facilitators who will plan the workshop/assembly, prepare resources , brief the alumni who will attend and facilitate the event on the day for an extra fee.

To equip you to run assemblies and workshops without additional help from Future First, we will provide you with advice and examples of the different ways you can use your alumni, lesson plans and resources, and can show you how other schools have run events in the past.

What if we decide we no longer require the service?

If, for any reason, you do decide that you would like to run your network without Future First’s ongoing help, you will be able to download all alumni data captured up to that date.

If you cancel your membership we would still love you to remain part of our wider network: to hear about how your alumni programme is going and to share your experience with other schools.

Can Primary Schools or Universities sign up?

At the moment, we only work with state secondary schools and colleges, but we are always open to having conversations about how our programmes could reach and benefit as many young people as possible.

Please do get in touch if you have any questions or think you could benefit from our expertise and services.

Can any school or college in the UK sign up?

Future First is currently available to any state-funded secondary school or college in England and Wales.

If you are interested in becoming part of the programme and are unsure about whether your school or college qualify, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss the different ways that Future First can support you.

My question is not answered here, what should I do?

Get in touch! You can email networks@futurefirst.org.uk or call 0207 239 8933 and we will always be happy to talk in more detail about the service, what we can do for your school or college, and answer any queries you might have.

If I sign up, what am I committing to?

Once signed up, there is no obligation to get involved straight away. We understand that life is busy and time can be hard to find. The time spent volunteering ranges from one-off commitments like taking part in a workshop to ongoing support such as becoming an online mentor.

You’ll be asked to identify the ways in which you might like to help as part of the sign-up process and your school or college will send occasional updates, news and opportunities to support the students, so you can pick and choose depending on what works best for you.

I've moved far away from my school, can I still help?

Yes! There are lots of ways to support your old school from afar. You could appear on an inspirational poster showcasing your chosen career, you could record a video talking about what you’re up to now or even mentor a student online. Check out this case study from Tiverton High School to see how they use their alumni who have moved abroad.

Future First isn't currently working with my school...

We'll keep your details safe and if they decide to join us, we'll be in touch. Alternatively, you can contact them directly to see how you might be able to support current students.

Can I volunteer at schools that aren't my own?

Our focus is on reconnecting schools with former students because they relate so well to current students. If you’re interested in volunteering at a different school, get in touch with our friends at Inspiring the Future to see how you can get involved.

Who can be a role model?

Everyone! We want to reconnect with former students in diverse careers and courses. Whether you’re still at university, studying for an apprenticeship or in a career, we want to hear from you.

What if I didn't enjoy my time at school?

There will be lots of students who are struggling with particular parts of school life. A student may relate to your story or benefit from hearing how you overcame barriers in life.

Why have I received an email asking me to login and set a password twice?

You may have received an email asking you to login and set a password for your alumni account. You may have received this email twice if you have more than one account registered with Future First. If you login to any duplicate account you can disable it, or contact us at networks@futurefirst.org.uk for assistance.

Why does the email address on my account look strange?

Your email address may have an additional plus sign and some numbers added to it. That is because at some point you registered for more than one account with Future First with the same email address. This includes if you used the same email to register to manage a school’s alumni network. You can either login to your account(s) and edit this information yourself, or contact us at networks@futurefirst.org.uk.

How can I support Future First’s work with current students?

There are a number of ways you can get involved as a Future First partner. From hosting career insight workshops at your offices, to supporting local schools to fund activities with their alumni community, we can work with you to develop a programme of activity that works for you. You may wish to sponsor events at the schools of your employees, so that they can give back to the next generation and tell them about opportunities in your sector.

How do your programmes meet our CSR objectives?

All Future First employer programmes tackle social mobility, and work to ensure that no child’s opportunities are limited by their background. Specific outcomes will vary from programme to programme, but you are likely to be addressing one or more of the following:

- Improving diversity and access
- Developing employability skills
- Supporting your local community
- Sharing expertise with the next generation, and improving awareness of issues important to your industry

The majority of our programmes involve staff volunteering small amounts of their time rather than financial donations so they can add welcome variety to a CSR offering.

How much do your programmes cost?

That depends on the scale. Though there are standard prices for career insight days, these will vary depending on who you would like to reach out to, how many events you’d like to run and what student numbers you’d like on each day. Bespoke programmes are costed on a case by case basis. Email emma.fay@futurefirst.org.uk to find out more.

Is there a guide to using the portal?

Yes, just login to the alumni portal and then you’ll be able to open the online portal guide which can be found in the Digital Toolkit.

I/my colleague can't login!

If you're unable to login to your alumni portal, try the following:

1. Check that the email address you're logging on with is the one you've registered to your account. Ask your Alumni Officer or another portal user to check this in the 'my account' section of your portal.
2. In the 'my account' section of your portal, ensure your name and email appear in the 'active' list. If it's in the 'inactive' list, just click 'enable'.
3. If you can't remember your password, click here to set a new one.
4. If none of the above tips work, try to login to the portal outside of the school network. If it functions, then the issues you're experiencing may be due to web filters applied in school. Email support@futurefirst.org.uk and we'll be happy to speak to your IT or Network Manager to help them resolve the issue, or you can give them this guide.

If the portal is functioning but some parts aren't displayed properly, this may be a compatibility issue related to the software used by Internet Explorer. We recommend using Chrome for the best user experience, but if you only have access to Internet Explorer then try the following steps to resolve this issue:

1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Click the tools button (usually looks like a cog symbol), and then click 'compatibility view settings'.
3. Under 'add this website', enter https://networks.futurefirst.org.uk/ and then click ‘add’.

I want to be added as a portal user for my school or college. How do I do this?

If you have a colleague who already has a portal account, ask them to login to the alumni portal and go to the ‘my account’ section where they can add additional users.

If you’re unable to access your alumni portal to add extra users, email support@futurefirst.org.uk and we can do this for you.

Can I use the alumni portal on a private or incognito browser?

It’s very important that you do not use an private/incognito browser window when accessing the portal if you have access to more than one school/college’s alumni portal, or you share a computer with someone who does.

Using a private/incognito browser window (i.e. one that disables your browsing history) to access the alumni portal for different schools/colleges may lead to data from the alumni portals you or others you share the computer with being shared across tabs, and could result in incorrect alumni data being displayed.

A public browser window is the standard one that opens when you open your default web browser. Usually, private/incognito browsers must be manually selected by the user, by right clicking on the browser icon or selecting ‘file’ and then ‘private window’ when the browser is open.

Why have I received an email asking me to login and set a password twice?

You may have received an email asking you to login and set a password for your alumni account. If you have received this email twice, you may have more than one account registered with Future First. To disable this, you can login to your accounts and disable any accounts which you do not want to use. Alternatively you can contact us at support@futurefirst.org.uk for assistance.

Why does the email address on my account look strange?

Your email address may have an additional plus sign and some numbers added to it. That is because at some point you registered for more than one account with Future First using the same email address.

This may have happened if you are signed up as a former student of your old school and are also involved in managing the alumni network of a school where you work.

You can either login to your account(s) and edit this information yourself, or contact us at support@futurefirst.org.uk.

What do I do if I have a technical issue or query which isn't covered here?

Take a screenshot of the issue you've encountered and send the image by email to your designated Alumni Officer, or if you have DIY+ membership contact support@futurefirst.org.uk.

In your email, outline the steps taken since experiencing the issue, and the browser type (i.e. Chrome, Internet Explorer) and version of the browser.

Future First's tech team will investigate the issue and regular updates will be sent to you.

We’re happy to answer any additional questions you have. You can email networks@futurefirst.org.uk or call 0207238933 and speak to a member of our team.