St Dominic’s Sixth Form College tells its story

St Dominic's sixth form has worked with Future First for three years now. The school uses alumni to show students that there are so many ways of being successful, whether that's through academic success or not. "Alumni show our students and their parents that it's not always about being a doctor, it's more about giving students 'a chance to be who they are'.

“St. Dominic’s is a Catholic Sixth Form College in Harrow. We have around 1200 students aged between 16 and 18 and around 100 members of staff. The college is very diverse.

We decided to start working with our alumni about five years ago. The Principal at the time believed that it would be good to use this initiative to support student development and enrichment. We paired up with Future First because their ethos really resonated with us, particularly around the power of role models and the impact former students can have widening young people’s horizons. Through Future First, we are now able to keep in touch with our alumni and create some sense of community by sharing college news with them and requesting their help and support throughout the academic year.

A large number of our career talks by alumni over the years have been to show our students that there are so many ways of being successful. Often in society, the focus is on academic success and we’ve been really fortunate to have a bank of wonderful alumni who can show our students and their parents that it’s not always about being a doctor, it’s more about giving them a chance to be who they are.

Since we joined Future First, every year, in the spring term, we invite our alumni back for an alumni panel and careers event. A few months before the event is due to take place, our Careers Team get together and decide which careers and courses we want to focus on, generally picking something from each department in the college. We invite all our Year 12 students and their parents along to the event and we are usually joined by about 13 alumni, all from different backgrounds.

Our students find it so helpful especially because they are hearing from those who were once in their seats. We have always been keen on sharing the fact that it’s not just about going to university. So every year, we welcome former students who have applied for apprenticeships so that students who are keen on other pathways can also benefit from this event.

It’s great that former students like to come back and visit us! At this year’s alumni event, I was privileged to meet a student who I taught 10 years ago. She’s now a politics lecturer and has just written her first book about how people express political ideas using graffiti.

I’ve had several conversations with students since the event and they have often pointed out things that alumni said. They do listen, particularly because they are hearing from people they can relate to – who have lived in the same area and gone to the college before them. Hearing from alumni about their future choices means more to them than hearing from teachers, so that’s another big reason for using our alumni network.

One student had her heart set on medicine but, having spoken to alumni who are pharmacists, she now feels that pharmacy sounds much more achievable and is definitely a career she can use her skills to flourish”.