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.