September 2016

You are browsing the site archives for September 2016.

This summer we finalised our strategy for the next four years and have begun to implement it. To help realise our vision of a world where a young person’s background does not limit their future options, we want to ensure that young people in every state school and college benefit from alumni support. To maximise progress, we are focusing on three areas for development: extending our reach; exploring innovative, targeted interventions; and building a national alumni movement.

  1. Extending our reach

Future First is currently working with just over 10% of all secondary schools and colleges nationwide. This represents positive progress for an organisation less than seven years old but we need to reach more schools and more young people so this remains a key element of our approach.

The key shift is towards more explicitly supporting schools to run their own networks. Our new approach focuses on upskilling schools with the knowledge and tools they need to lead their own alumni engagement. We have started to offer two years of support through our existing ‘core’ service to help schools build and kick-start their network, focusing on ensuring we not only help them launch, but train school staff to continue the development over time. After that period, schools may prefer to move to our ‘DIY+service. Through this, we offer access to our technology platform that they will already be using to manage their network, as well as ongoing access to our interactive alumni engagement toolkit.

  1. Exploring innovative, targeted interventions

As described above, we will increasingly support schools to lead the growth of their own networks. Schools will use their alumni in ways outlined in our toolkit and, increasingly, through learning  from each other’s ideas.

The second strand of our strategy looks to supplement those school-led interventions with a series of targeted interventions, seeking to tackle some of the most long-standing challenges facing the education system. These will include, for example, using alumni to help tackle the huge underachievement of white working-class boys, or to support students at risk of completely disengaging from school or entering the criminal justice system by engaging former students who may have faced similar challenges  in their younger lives.

We will work alongside our network of teachers and other experts to plan, design and deliver a series of interventions to tackle such challenges. These might include using alumni as role model speakers, coaches, mentors or work experience hosts as with many of our other programmes. However, the precise combination of activities, timing, specific alumni chosen and more will be designed to support the needs of the target students. We will then evaluate the effectiveness of such programmes and for those which are effective, we will disseminate guidance about how to replicate them.

  1. Building a national alumni movement

Future First is committed to building a national movement of alumni engagement. This means supporting or promoting the use of former students to schools beyond those with which we directly work. We have already seen some success in this. Before Future First started, less than 1% of non-selective state schools made use of their alumni to support current students. We recently commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research to poll schools on whether they do so now. 26% of them said that they do.

Future first played a key role in making this happen. We have worked with more than half of those schools directly – either as ongoing partners, or to help them kick-start their networks. Alumni support is a key recommendation of the government’s best practice guide on careers education and that document also includes a case study of our work.

Seeking to grow the number from a quarter to all state schools is a critical strand of our new strategy. To achieve this, we aim to secure support for a large research study into the impact of alumni networks in secondary schools. By developing the impact base for our work, we believe we can convince more headteachers and governors to invest in this area in their schools.

We will also review how we can better communicate the information we hold already about the benefits of alumni engagement.

At the start of the 2016/17 academic year, Future First launched a partnership with ARK to support eight schools to build and engage alumni communities.

Each school has access to their own alumni portal, which allows them to store alumni details, keep those details up to date, communicate with their alumni and keep records of alumni activities. Each school will benefit from a Future First-led careers and employability session. These sessions are professionally run alumni-based workshops and assemblies that are designed to boost student confidence, motivate them to work harder and inform them about careers,  courses and the world of work. Future First staff will plan a session around an objective of each school’s  choice, recruit and brief the alumni volunteers and come in and facilitate the session on the day.

Future First staff will also be delivering training for school staff from each school to equip them with the skills and expertise necessary to run their networks themselves.

We will look forward to sharing the many exciting ways in which the schools use their alumni over the course of the next year.

The Jack Petchey Foundation is offering subsidies for schools and colleges in London and Essex hoping to sign up to the Future First programme. Last year the support of the Petchey Foundation enabled us to support over 50 schools and colleges across the region to build sustainable networks that will support the schools for generations to come. Participating schools have mobilised their former students as mentors, career and education role models, work experience providers and more.

This year we have 50 £500 subsidies to give away to schools and colleges in London and Essex. The places will be allocated on a first come first served basis and we’ve already given six of those places away. If your school is already part of the Petchey award scheme and you would like to find out about Future First membership, or if you would be interested in signing up to the award scheme, please contact our Senior Communications Officer, Anna, at


Welcome to the new Future First eBulletin. You’re receiving the eBulletin because you have expressed an interest in Future First, or you are one of our members, partners or supporters. We hope you’ll enjoy reading it each month. We will share news and stories from Future First and the exciting ways in which our schools and colleges are using alumni up and down the country. Our main focus will be on highlighting the impact of relatable role models across the country. We will also provide reports of our work with employers and other partners, dates for the diary and opportunities for schools and colleges.

The launch of our eBulletin comes at an exciting time for Future First. We’re growing, with more schools and employer partners, a bigger team and more alumni volunteers signed up than ever before. In 2015/16, we worked with over 400 schools and 82,850 young people and we now have more than 180,000 alumni signed up to stay in touch with their old schools. We’re looking forward to working with even more schools, colleges, alumni and partners this coming year.

We hope you enjoy reading about the exciting work underway up and down the country. If you have any suggestions of things you would like to hear about or if you are a school or college that would like to us to feature an interesting way in which you have engaged your alumni, please get in touch with our Senior Communications Officer, Anna at

Future First is a charity helping state schools and colleges to build thriving engaged alumni communities. As the 2016/17 academic year gets underway, we’re excited to launch our new website. Whether you are a former student, someone from a school or college, an employer, supporter or member of the public, we hope you find it easy to use and enjoy reading about the exciting work underway up and down the country.

At the core of this work is the important determination to ensure that no young person’s future is limited by their background. We know that former students can have a dramatic and inspirational effect on young people studying today. We have seen alumni transform young people’s confidence, motivation and skills. Our new website tells you about the impact of alumni in schools. It provides stories and news about schools using alumni to inspire current students and give greater insight and access to the world of work, training and higher education.

The launch of our new site comes at an exciting time for Future First. We’re growing, with more schools and employer partners, a bigger team and more alumni volunteers signed up than ever before. In 2015/16, we worked with over 400 schools and 82,850 young people and we now have more than 800,000 alumni signed up to stay in touch with their old schools. We’re looking forward to working with even more member schools, partners, alumni, teachers and staff this coming year.

If you are a former student keen to make contact with your former school or college, you will find it easy to sign up on the new site. We have also made the site welcoming for schools and colleges and for potential employer partners. If you are not already working with us, do please sign up and join us so we can build a movement together that leads to the establishment of a thriving alumni community in every secondary school and college.

As we launch Future First’s new website, we are also producing a new eBulletin. This will share news and stories from our member schools and from alumni events across the country, highlighting, in particular, the impact of relatable role models on young people. It will also provide reports of our work with employers and other partners. You can sign up here for the first of our eBulletins which will be published at the end of September.

We hope you enjoy the new website and come back often. If you have any feedback or suggestions for further information you would like to see, please do not hesitate to contact Anna Darling who has managed the development of the website from start to finish. Anna can be contacted at