16 August 2016

Raising Aspirations at Newall Green High School

Newall Green High School is a mixed 11-18 comprehensive in Manchester. The school has been working with Future First for three years to grow a community of former students and embed a community culture across the school. According to the Social Mobility Index, the area has one of the worst records for social mobility in England. The school report that there are generations of unemployment in the area and that they want to give students and their families support to find out what career options are out there.

The staff at Newall Green do fantastic work to help broaden students horizons. A ‘success wall’ lines the main entrance where former students appear on posters designed to inspire students as they walk to their classes. An alumni newsletter goes out three times a year to keep former students updated with school news and opportunities to get involved. Alumni return to speak to years 7-13 once every half term to provide a ‘drip effect’ on inspiration for the students.

Newall Green worked with Future First to plan an ‘introduction to careers’ session for their Year 8s. The students had recently chosen their GCSE subjects and the session aimed to show how those subjects relate to the outside world and where the skills they learn can take them. The school finds that students don’t often meet people in jobs they want to do and many go on to become teachers because they meet them every day. One of the former students who was there on the day, Hannah Beth told us, “I trained for three years to become a teacher because I just thought that’s what people do. I had no idea I could work locally in another respectable job.”

The session began with former students sharing their favourite memory from school. They introduced props so the students could guess what they did, which included a camera lense (Director), a movie clapper (Actor), a virgin media remote control (Virgin media specialist) and a Buddha (R.E. teacher). Students then had time with the alumni in small groups, asking questions about their progression routes and discussing their own goals and aspirations. The former students shared advice on how to get there.

The advice shared by alumni had an impact on one student in particular, Luke. Luke told us that he didn’t often meet people in interesting jobs or people in jobs that he wanted to do. “It’s good to hear that some of them found school hard and still do good jobs.”

“When I was at school there was no way I thought people from here could go into my line of work. I just didn’t know anyone in that kind of job and being from this area, I just didn’t think I could do it either. This area is part of me, it gets so much bad press but there are successful people from here. I want the students to know that.”

Andy Ellis, Actor and former student of Newall Green High School