Alumni Programme

Future First has developed a robust process for helping schools develop sustainable alumni communities- engaging both this year’s leavers and former students who have lost touch – using a secure online platform to support that connection.

The work of Future First is a collaboration between our expert team, school staff, students, employers and alumni. Future First has a team of dedicated Alumni Officers who work with schools and colleges to help them build and manage their community of former students. Alumni Officers are experts in their field and offer practical support and advice for school staff.

We take an enabling approach. We work with schools and colleges to embed alumni engagement across the fabric of the school and lives of the students so that each network is sustainable and accessible for generations to come.

How do we do it?

STEP 1 | Sign up leavers

Our first step is to sign up all final year students so they can keep in touch from their last day. Future First provides a secure online platform that helps schools to collect student contact details, keep those contact details up to date, send out communications and search and filter through their alumni to find volunteers for specific needs. To try out the portal please contact info@futurefirst.org.uk and request our guest log in.

STEP 2 | Reach out to former students

We also help schools to reach out to former students who have lost touch using press, social media, employer and university partnerships, and our Back to School Week campaign to encourage alumni to sign up.

STEP 3 | Engage former students

Schools regularly contact former students with updates, newsletters and opportunities to get involved. An engaged network helps alumni feel part of the school community.

Step 4 | Track their journeys

We help track progression routes and destinations via our annual tracking survey and online platform. Schools can capture their former students' journeys by asking them to update their details every year.

Step 5 | Invite former students back to school

The next step is to invite alumni to support current students by bringing them back as inspiring speakers, or asking them to provide mentoring, work shadowing or ' a day in the life' video profiles.

How do we do it?

STEP 1 | Sign up leavers

Our first step is to sign up all final year students so they can keep in touch from their last day. Future First provides a secure online platform that helps schools to collect student contact details, keep those contact details up to date, send out communications and search and filter through their alumni to find volunteers for specific needs. To try out the portal please contact info@futurefirst.org.uk and request our guest log in.

STEP 2 | Reach out to former students

We also help schools to reach out to former students who have lost touch using press, social media, employer and university partnerships, and our Back to School Week campaign to encourage alumni to sign up.

STEP 3 | Engage former students

Schools regularly contact former students with updates, newsletters and opportunities to get involved. An engaged network helps alumni feel part of the school community.

Step 4 | Track their journeys

We help track progression routes and destinations via our annual tracking survey and online platform. Schools can capture their former students' journeys by asking them to update their details every year.

Step 5 | Invite former students back to school

The next step is to invite alumni to support current students by bringing them back as inspiring speakers, or asking them to provide mentoring, work shadowing or ' a day in the life' video profiles.

We create a tailored programme for every school and college

Once we have helped reach out to former students and build networks, schools and colleges can begin to use their former students in a variety of ways to meet a variety of needs. Our goal is to help each school or college to deliver the most effective interventions to address the specific needs of their students.

Find out how we can help

St Dominic’s Sixth Form College, Harrow, tells its story

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26 October 2017

St Dominic’s Sixth Form College, Harrow, tells its story

Angela Inglese, Assistant Principal:

“St. Dominic’s Sixth Form College is a Catholic Sixth Form College in Harrow. We have approximately 1200 students aged between 16 and 18 and around 100 members of staff. The college is very diverse. We are very popular in the local area so the rest of our intake is from a range of ethnic backgrounds. We are very proud to have been named The Sunday Times’ Sixth Form College of the Year for 2017.

We decided to start working with our alumni about five years ago. We signed up to Future First because their ethos really resonated with us, particularly around the power of role models and the impact former students can have broadening young people’s horizons. Through Future First, we are now able to keep in touch with our alumni and create a sense of community by sharing college news with them and requesting for their help and support throughout the academic year. We want to continue using our alumni to inspire students, especially those who are interested in careers that we don’t currently offer much support on.

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 to the event and we are usually joined by about 13 alumni, all from different backgrounds.

This event is run like a panel, with the Future First facilitators asking our alumni open-ended questions about the importance of working hard to get into university, work or apprenticeship schemes, or what the expectations are when they get there, and what university and work life is all about. We finish off with a break out session, enabling students to speak to each former student in more detail about their journey after leaving college. Our alumni also share any advice they have to give. It’s great fun!

The most noticeable impact our alumni have is helping students understand the importance of their UCAS application. The whole point of this event is for students to understand what is on offer, what kinds of things they are interested in and whether they could then do that as a career and if so, how to get there.

Our students find it so helpful especially because they are hearing from those who were once in their seats. At St. Dominic’s, we have always been keen on sharing the fact that it’s not just about going to university. So every year for this event, 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. Hearing from alumni about their future choices means more to them than hearing from teachers.

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.

The pressure to get good grades is very attractive for some students. But anxiety as a result of pressure is so common. To be able to find out something like this not only takes some of the pressure off but gives students a focus, boosting their motivation and their self-belief.”

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Eastbury Community School, Barking, tells its story

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06 October 2017

Eastbury Community School, Barking, tells its story

"We like our students to have access to alumni regularly so they can get advice and guidance on how to be successful and learn more about career and education pathways."

Stuart Gander, Head of Careers Education:

“Eastbury Community School is an all through school for three to 19-year-olds and there are roughly 1,850 students (primary school all the way up to sixth form). We are in one of the five most deprived areas of the country, and a large proportion of our students come from ethnic minority groups. We are a specialist maths and computing school and the number of pupil premium students is above the national average. We were recently voted the kindest school in the UK.

We have been working with Future Fist for four years now, with the aim to inspire young people by inviting alumni back for all careers related events at the school. Events include mock interviews, pathway evenings, careers fairs and careers speed networking. We like our students to have access to alumni regularly so they can get advice and guidance on how to be successful and learn more about career and education pathways. We find that students like speaking to alumni and open up a lot more to them as they’ve been exactly where they are. Excitingly, we are now starting to use alumni in the curriculum, bringing them into the classroom, and hope to have more coming back to support teachers in their subject areas!

In December, we hosted our first careers speed networking event. 25 representatives from different job sectors, including six alumni, spoke to small groups of Year 9 and 10 students about their jobs and how they got into them. The aim of the day was to inspire our future workforce about real jobs, develop their communication skills, challenge stereotypes and find out what is required to stand out in an increasingly competitive employment market. This event was a huge success and we look forward to running it again next year.

One Year 9 student said: “It gave us a good idea about options to pick, and an insight into the good and bad points of each job.”

Another said: “The day was really interesting and motivating, it has inspired me to think about my future career.”

Since the event, I’ve noticed a difference in the students, particularly the Year 10s. Three months later we held our mock interview days. For these, the students had to apply for one out of 12 jobs, covering different sectors, including a teacher, marketing executive, biomedical scientist, business analyst and a construction engineer. Leading up to the day, they had to research the company they were applying to, practise interview questions in a role play scenario and write a CV. They found the experience extremely useful because the interview was based on a real world setting. Students were able to experience first-hand what questions they may be asked and what they could do to improve next time.

One of our Year 10 students was interested in pursuing a sports career but didn’t know much about it. She was interviewed by a former student, who is currently at Brighton university completing a degree in teaching to coach. As well as interviewing the student she also gave her the opportunity to ask questions. The student found this very informative and it helped to confirm the route she wants to pursue.”

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Bodmin College, Cornwall, tells its story

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26 September 2017

Bodmin College, Cornwall, tells its story

Jayne Smith, Raising Aspirations Coordinator:

“Bodmin College is an 11-18 in Cornwall. The area we’re in is the lowest quintile of students who access higher education. It’s an indicator that we have work to do in terms of aspiration raising.

I’m the Raising Aspirations Coordinator at the school. I took on the role because I felt working on this would help the students’ life chances by opening doors for them. Before this, I was the Head of Art at Bodmin College.  I kept in touch with ex-students and would ask them back to share portfolios with the sixth formers. Undergrads came in to school to talk about university life and we would take our students to meet them at the arts university degree shows.

The results in the art department were excellent and lots of the students went on to higher education. As a teacher, I really felt the alumni were helping the students, particularly their aspirations to continue with their studies at university. I knew it was to do with role modelling and in my new position I wanted to extend this across the school.

Whilst contacting alumni on social media, I used a spread sheet for contact details. At the time I wanted some kind of portal that I could access and researching it one evening, I came across Future First. The Portal meant that I could put the Future First link out on social media, it was secure and it no longer involved using my personal account. The whole thing was much more professional. The Portal is well laid out; I can click on 40 people and instantly email them an invite to come into college. It has saved so much time that I just didn’t have.

The exciting thing about working with alumni is that there are just so many creative ways you can use them in school. In our first planning meeting, our Alumni Officer came up with many initiatives to explore. It’s been great having an Alumni Officer; it means the programme doesn’t get pushed to the back burner; she gently prompts me when needed and sparks my interest by bringing new ideas.

The alumni events that Future First has run are very good. Having run similar sessions before, I’ve picked up ideas from the Alumni Officers on delivering presentations and facilitating workshops. One event was for C/D borderline Year 10 students which focused on the world of work and the alumni shared their journey from Bodmin College onwards. We then did a second event four months later with the same year group. This time it was for the top set Maths and English students who are definitely capable of university. Many of these students in both groups are the first generation to go to university. The undergraduate alumni tackled the myths about universities and they shared how they chose their A levels. Our current students are about to do their sixth form interviews so we planned the event ahead of that. A few of them actually referenced alumni in their interviews and they were applying the information they had learnt about A level decisions.

One Year 13 student, Phoebe, wants to be a doctor and she’s the first generation in her family to go to university. We linked her with Cassie, who is studying medicine at Exeter University. Cassie comes in and mentors Phoebe and another alumni, Lorna, a medic in Cardiff, has done a mock interview with her. I know it’s been a positive thing for Phoebe; it’s kept her motivation alive. She now has four university interviews, which is great.”

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Why Alumni?

Alumni communities have two distinctive strengths: relatability and sustainability. Having grown up in the same area and perhaps having had some of the same teachers, former students are ideal role models as they are instantly relatable. They can offer advice to students from their own context.

Alumni can prove to students that ‘someone like me’ can succeed and prosper.

Schools and colleges have a lasting pool of support available because as new students leave the school each year , they join the growing community of volunteers.

Within every school and college’s alumni community, there is a host of potential career and education role models. The list of possibilities are endless and new innovative ways of working with alumni are developing everyday.

Role Models

Mentors

Supporting the Curriculum

Work Placements

Volunteering

Fundraisers

Role Models

Having grown up in the same place and attended the same school, alumni are immediately relatable to current students. This makes them ideal role models. Alumni can talk about their educational or career experiences and inspire current students to achieve their potential.

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Mentors

Alumni can act as mentors either online or in person, providing advice, support and guidance to students. Mentoring is tailored to the individual with specific goals in mind, offering students a purposeful new relationship to help overcome a range of challenges.

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Supporting the Curriculum

Former students can play a key role in the delivery of the core curriculum. Returning to their old classrooms, alumni enrich the curriculum by co-delivering lessons related to their careers, helping build students’ understanding of the real world application of their learning and boosting their motivation.

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Work Placements

Work experience is an invaluable opportunity for students to gain an insight into working life. Alumni can provide shadowing opportunities and placements, helping students gain not online more awareness of work, but also the skills they need to succeed when they get there.

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Volunteering

Former students often have specific expertise to offer: from coaching a football team, to running after school clubs or designing a new garden. They can also help the school or college community to flourish by acting as governors, combining knowledge of the local community with experiences and skills they’ve gained since leaving school.

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Fundraisers

Alumni can support their old school or college by raising money or donating to specific causes. This could be books for the library, music equipment or to fund educational visits for current students.

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Our Employer Programme

Young people deserve and benefit greatly from access to employers whilst they’re still at school. Research shows that young people who interact with employers during their time at school are far less likely to become NEET (not in education, employment or training).

Our employer programme complements the core work we undertake to build and develop communities of former students. Alumni volunteers boost students’ confidence, motivation and knowledge of career pathways. We work with a range of employers, for partner staff to talk to young people, including in the workplace itself. This enables students to access the real experience, advice and motivation from a range of available jobs.

We are very grateful for the support of our employer partners. If you are interested in becoming a partner or finding out more information please email info@futurefirst.org.uk.