May 2017

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As part of The Nobel School’s Year 10 enterprise day, 40 students with little exposure to people in a variety of jobs were selected to take part in an employability skills session.

Five former students, from a CEO to a Paralympic gold medalist turned rowing coach, helped students develop key skills for the future.

The morning kicked off with some inspirational stories, as alumni described their journeys since leaving school. One former student started her career on a Young Enterprise scheme and went on to open her own tie-dye t-shirt business. She described how university was ‘alien’ to her family so she didn’t go straight away. Now she is studying for her Masters. She told students: “You can choose your own path if you want to. Be proud of yourself, channel your own positivity and let that drive all the other things you do.

Alumni worked with students on a series of activities to identify important life skills, such as effective communication, organisation and the ability to stick to deadlines. After the session, one student told us: ”I’ve realised that we are learning these skills in every single subject at school”.

Students got a taste of team work, problem solving and planning when, led by alumni, they were tasked with building a tower out of drinking straws.

Afterwards, 94% of participating students said they were more confident or much more confident about being successful in the future. One student said the session had taught them to “never give up and focus on [their] aspirations”.

We’re nearing the end of our Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) funded project in the South West. 40 schools and colleges now have active alumni communities and we’ve seen such innovative activities across the South West.

Paul Reddick, headteacher of Crispin High School in Devon, wrote to his alumni to thank them for their support:

During a line management meeting looking at the alumni programme with Mrs Maxfield, I was full of enthusiasm about writing a short piece for our registered alumni. A few weeks later I find myself thinking ‘what will the alumni want to hear about from me?’ This is the first time I have written one of these pieces so I am not totally sure what to say. I will start off with the most important thing and say a large ‘thank you’ to everyone who has signed up for the alumni project. The last I heard we had the third largest number of alumni (337) of the schools that Future First is working with in the South West.

Mrs Maxfield has done a fantastic job getting alumni signed up and involved and we have received excellent feedback from those who have taken part in a variety of ventures so far. I realise some of you have travelled a considerable distance from mid-Somerset while others have stayed closer to home in classrooms, science labs, the ICT office and even the Headteacher’s PA’s office at Crispin. So far we have heard about the career paths alumni have taken, had alumni working with students in school and we have just started to have students going out and visiting alumni in the world of work.

I know sometimes ex-students think that schools are only interested in them if they have discovered a cure for a tropical disease, played in the Premier League or starred in a highly rated television show. As far as I am concerned nothing could be further from the truth. I am more interested in hearing from the nurses, mechanics and florists amongst you than someone who had a walk on part in Hollyoaks in 2003 (but if you did do the latter, well done, and we would like to hear from you).

We are always happy to hear of any suggestions about how we can move the programme forward and we always like to listen to hear about how our alumni are faring.

So have a good summer and thank you for your continuing interest in Crispin – it is greatly appreciated.”

Two years ago, a mentor and mentee from St James School in Devon were recognised at the Brightside Awards. Kaydee and her mentor Ali won awards for best industry mentor and mentee of the year – a fantastic testament to the supportive relationship they developed over the year.

E-mentoring allows alumni to play a regular, motivational role in a student’s life, even if they live far from the school.

This year, we’ve nominated another terrific pair from Tiverton High School, North Devon. The Tiverton e-mentoring programme targeted high-achieving Year 10 boys who are in receipt of pupil premium. Alex has been nominated for mentee of the year, while both Alex and his mentor, Pete, are up for pairing of the year.

Throughout the project, Alex asked mature and pertinent questions to find out as much as he could about the options available to him. Pete provided thorough and considered answers to Alex’s questions and went the extra mile when he felt he was unable to provide suitable answers. When Alex told Pete he was thinking of applying to Oxford or Cambridge, Pete collected questions from him to send to a friend who had studied at Oxford.

By end of the project, Alex had chosen three university courses: Engineering at Imperial College London, Engineering Science at Oxford and Engineering at Cambridge. Pete supported Alex’s high aspirations and gave him encouragement and tips on how to get there.

We’re hoping to share good news after the awards in June. Watch this space!