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

Highworth Grammar School, Kent, tells its story

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07 September 2017

Highworth Grammar School, Kent, tells its story

Freyja Danielsen, Sixth Form and Careers Manager:

We are a girls’ grammar school in Ashford, Kent and we have a mixed sixth form. At Highworth, as well as motivating students to work hard, we want students enjoy their experiences and want to study here.

A few years ago and after graduating from university myself, we began to realise just how much universities use their alumni and could see how powerful former student stories could be. When we started to re-connect with people it became clear very quickly just how much our alumni were willing to do for us and more importantly, how much they truly wanted to do for us. We think it’s a brilliant concept and had heard that Future First were the best people to partner with to get things going. All the support we have received since then has been amazing. There has been so much guidance on the Core Programme. We’ve learnt how best to do things, when is best to do things, how to communicate with our alumni and been given ideas about how to involve them in school.

Our alumni have returned to Highworth on multiple occasions and it’s wonderful to see how their enthusiasm grows each time. Most people leave Highworth loving the school and now they are able to join this fantastic network of other people who feel the same from across the years.

It’s also having a real impact with our Year 13 leaving students, who for the first time this year actually asked if they could sign up to the network before we promoted it! It’s now become something that students know they will be a part of when they leave school and it’s something they want to do.

Over the past year we have paired a small number of Year 12 students with alumni for work experience placements. We have been extremely lucky that our alumni have been so willing to offer placements and if they can’t offer in-person work experience, they have sent extensive tips for our Year 12s about their careers and sectors.

One of our most transformative work placements has been for Year 12 student Ella, who completed a week shadowing alumna Rebecca, Head of Content and Publishing at the BBC. Ella absolutely loved her time with Rebecca and ended up making further contacts during the week whom she’s currently in conversation with about future placements in radio and television. After just her first day there, Ella emailed me to say how much she was enjoying it and Rebecca emailed to say that Ella was a real pleasure to have at the BBC. Afterwards, Ella applied to do an internship with ITV and Rebecca very kindly supported her with the application.

As the Careers Manager, I am always trying to highlight the importance of work experience and trying to encourage the girls to try different things, as they won’t know if they like a certain job or way of working unless they try it.

Ella has become even more driven since her work placement to get a job in the media industry. Her application to ITV was successful and she’s got an internship lined up, which Rebecca helped her apply for. They still keep in touch, which is great for us to know. This is the fantastic thing about our alumni, they get involved with one small thing or offer to help with one project and then it develops and snowballs and they end up supporting our students and going above and beyond for them. The connection they have can’t be matched by teachers or external people and that’s the best thing about it.

The impact that alumni have on our current students in general is that it completely opens their eyes to what is possible and available to them in later life. Alumni show our students that anything is possible and are the best people to demonstrate what you can achieve after leaving school. Some of our alumni are doing things that we’ve never heard of and that you definitely aren’t aware of when you’re 14 or 15. Students tend to know about more traditional jobs, so being a doctor, a teacher, a vet. They don’t know that you can actually do social media as a job or about the different types of journalism that exist. It’s these more modern careers that aren’t spoken about enough in schools, so in terms of careers our alumni are incredibly key to opening the students’ eyes.

We hope our alumni community continues to grow and are so glad that we have worked with Future First as we love working with them! In only a few years we have seen an overwhelmingly positive impact across the school and a real difference in the students who have interacted with them and been part of the programme.

We are so pro-alumni, we just want to keep trying new things and keep growing our network.

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Grey Court School, Ham, tells its story

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16 June 2017

Grey Court School, Ham, tells its story

Bernie Corrighan, Careers Adviser:

“Grey Court School is a mixed comprehensive for 11 to 18-year-olds. We opened a sixth form in 2014. We’re based in Ham which is one of the most deprived areas in London, despite being in the borough of Richmond upon Thames. Students come from a mixed background: there’re different cultures and races. Our free school meal percentage is in line with the national average and our last Ofsted rating was Outstanding.

I’m the careers adviser at Grey Court and at another school. We’ve run careers events for the last 10 years. We wanted to link in more with our alumni to get role models for our sixth formers. Any alumni work we had done before was very ad hoc. There wasn’t a central place that we could go to contact alumni from specific sectors.

We’ve been working with Future First for three years now. We wanted to get access to more role models. We also wanted work experience offers for our sixth formers and to support any events that we’re running in school. We just thought the advice would be so much better if it was coming from a real role model to the students.

My colleague Ian and I manage the alumni portal but we regularly talk about it to the rest of the staff body and ask if anyone wants to invite alumni in to support their subject area.

Teachers in the school are receptive and supportive. Whenever we do any events in the sixth form we ask if they’d like to invite alumni to come in and support it.

We hold a careers networking event for our Year 9s in which we run various workshops. We have about 20 alumni per session. The students split into pairs and work with the alumni who come from a range of careers. It’s important because it opens them up to careers they don’t know about – careers that are beyond their immediate reach.

We get such brilliant feedback from students. Parents even say students talk about the alumni they meet at home. The fact that students have to speak to strangers puts them out of their comfort zone. When they hear that someone came to this school they want to know about their time here and what kind of student they were. It puts them at ease because they can start with questions about the school.

We run mock interviews with Year 10 students: they’re interviewed by alumni, which is great because it exposes them to people from the working world.

We did involve volunteers in these events before but it was very random – really ad hoc. We found volunteers through teacher connections. It wasn’t very professional. Now that we have the alumni network we can be more specific about who we want and who is suitable for events, rather than it just being whoever you can get to volunteer. Now we can be selective about who we bring in to speak to the students.

Future First has encouraged us to communicate with our alumni network regularly. We send out a bulletin to alumni telling them what’s going on in school and any updates about teachers. They want to know what’s going on. We also thank them a lot, which is so important. They do a lot for us and we’re really grateful.

Our alumni programme is mainly about careers and inspiring our students but we do a bit of fundraising. We have a Grey Court tree and alumni can buy leaves. We also held a reunion where alumni paid to come and visit – it was great and I think the alumni got a lot out of it.

One of my favourite things we do is a friends and founders evening for our Year 12s. They bring in their CVs and talk to people from different careers, and they try and find work experience placements. Quite a few students have gained experience from our alumni. One ex-student who works in Kingston hospital has offered placements to four students. Last year we had our first student go off to medical school. He could talk about what he’d done on the placement with the former student. I think a large part of him gaining the university place was his work experience with the former student – he wouldn’t have got that experience without the alumni network. He’s now at Manchester studying medicine.

We also had a female student who met an alumna at the Year 12 evening. She had regretted not taking photography for GCSE. She did a photography placement with a former student and it completely made her rethink her future – she’s decided to study art based on this experience. Because of the alumni she has followed her passion and interests.

I’ve had a lot of conversations with students in careers interviews. They really do remember speaking to alumni and they cite the conversations in the interviews. A boy referenced speaking to a forensic scientist in Year 9 in his Year 12 careers interview three years later! It gets them thinking about their future, helps their decision making and raises their awareness of what’s to come. For some, it’s tangible experience like the work experience placements. Not everyone has those connections. The alumni offer opportunities that the students would not have otherwise had.”

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Skype Lessons from the Netherlands at Tiverton High School

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24 November 2016

Skype Lessons from the Netherlands at Tiverton High School

Tiverton High School has shown how alumni can play a key role in supporting students from a 1000 miles away.

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 whilst boosting their motivation to work harder at the same time.

Tiverton High School is located in North Devon. Since many of their former students have moved away from the area, the school set out to find a way to involve alumni in the curriculum remotely. They decided to organise a series of talks, in which alumni use Skype to teach lessons on subjects related to their careers. The featured image is of Sally Hill, now owner of her own Scientific Translations company in the Netherlands. Sally skyping into a Year 10 geography class to talk about International Labour Markets, which the students were studying at the time.

Thinking of involving alumni in lessons? Get in touch with your alumni officer to get a copy of the ‘In Curriculum: teacher toolkit’.

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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.