Alumni can help create a fairer world

Written by Lorraine Langham, CEO of Future First

We all want a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable society, yet so much evidence shows we are heading the wrong way, or just not moving fast enough.

Sam Cooke wrote that ‘a change is gonna come’ in support of the American civil rights protests back in 1963. Yet here we are, in 2020, witnessing legitimate protests about the deep inequalities and injustices still embedded in our societies. The Black Lives Matter movement gives voice to many issues that need to be tackled – racism, equal respect, human rights and freedom – not just in America, but here in the UK.

Education raises aspirations and transforms lives. It is the key to creating a more just society. Not only does it nurture and develop individuals to reach their potential, it also develops young people as good citizens, prepared to play their role in building communities and creating a better world. Education shapes young people’s values, the way they see themselves and the world around them. Education sits at the forefront of breaking down the barriers established by racism and many schools do wonderful work, including tackling stereotypes and dealing with unconscious bias. Unesco writes about empowering students for just societies, equipping learners to become ‘champions of peace and justice’. Surely this is what we want?

At Future First, we believe that children ‘can’t be what they can’t see’. They need relatable role models to show them a world of opportunities, whatever their background, race or faith. We work tirelessly to provide state school pupils with a network that can inspire and support them – in schools and the classroom – but also beyond education, with pathways to employment, further or higher education and opportunities for work.

Alumni help equip young people with the skills they need to thrive in a complex and uncertain world. It is a world of climate change, pandemics and the on-going struggle for equality and human rights for all – but also a world of opportunity that must be for everyone. Alumni inspire young people with their stories of success and how they have overcome barriers to reach their goals and realise their dreams. Alumni help students to build confidence, resilience and the motivation to study hard.

The recently published NFER report highlights the falling diversity of school governors and concludes that white ethnic groups are statistically over represented. Alumni can make excellent governors and our work can be valuable to schools in encouraging more diverse talent to step forward.

Future First is celebrating the diversity of state schools and their alumni. We want to showcase some of their stories and successes in a wide array of roles.

If you are Black and went to state school, please share your photos and stories with us (via Twitter @FutureFirstOrg or email us at info@futurefirst.org.uk) so we can celebrate your achievements and share them with schools to inspire current students.