Future First helps more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education

Each of the 29 regional NCOP consortia are aiming to double higher education participation of disadvantaged young people by 2020. Future First is working with three of the consortia; the Sussex Learning Network, the Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach (neaco) and Next Steps South West to connect state school students with alumni role models to open their eyes about the benefits of higher education.

In East Anglia, Year 9 students have had their preconceptions about university life challenged by former students who’ve gone on to attend university. In the South West, three students got the unique opportunity to undertake a work experience placement with a former student in the Mental Health Research department at the Peninsula Medical School. And in Sussex, students had their eyes opened to a variety of pathways during National Careers Week, as a different former student gave an inspirational talk every day.

neaco have been delighted with their partnership with Future First, stating:

Future First seem to just get on with it without being time consuming or causing any undue stress or apprehension. They provide excellent customer service to our schools… I haven’t heard a single complaint whatsoever… they have shown complete sympathy and understanding with schools…and I read their weekly update with joy…”

Some highlights from the schools so far include:

Cambridge, Peterborough and Suffolk (neaco)

  • 232 former students have signed up to St Peters School’s alumni community in just three weeks!
  • In a series of myth busting sessions, Year 9 students at Neale-Wade Academy had their preconceptions about university life challenged by former students who had once sat in their schools seats before going on to attend university. East Anglia Higher Education Coordinator, Verity, attended the Future First facilitated sessions and told her team: ‘I hadn’t attended one of the sessions before in our schools and I was really keen to see one. It’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed! The set up was great, the alumni were really engaged in the session and Future First staff were brill.  If you haven’t had chance to see one of the workshops in your school yet, I would definitely recommend popping along.’

Sussex (Sussex Learning Network)

  • Varndean School’s Learning Enhancement Day benefited from a Future First alumni session for Year 10 students. Volunteer and PhD student Charlie Pullen wrote about his experiences in a blog which has been featured in the Times Higher Education Supplement. He said: ‘Explaining your work is obviously valuable for the person listening to you – hopefully they will go away interested by an opportunity that they might not have known about before – but it can also be a chance for you to reflect on your own career.’  Read more.

South West (Next Steps South West)

  • In a bespoke Future First workshop at Robert Blake Science College seven alumni volunteers worked with Year 10 students to help them aim high and feel confident about their futures. Kirsty, a Motorsport Engineering degree student, enjoyed the workshop so much that she stayed for the rest of the day to talk to other Year 10 students about her work on super cars and the engineering industry.

In the news…

Our work with NCOP has been featured in local news across East Anglia and Sussex. Some highlights include the East Anglian Daily Times and The Great Yarmouth Mercury.

On social media…

Alumni and school staff have been taking to social media to talk about the impact of the project. Make sure you’re following Future First on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram for more updates.