Future First’s response to school closures

Last night’s national lockdown announcement, including school closures and the news that this year’s A-level and GCSE exams have been cancelled, has thrown schools, colleges, students and families across the country into yet more uncertainty.

While students await further announcements on what method of assessment will replace exams, they will inevitably be feeling increasingly anxious. We know from the previous lockdown and research, that increasing numbers of students are reporting concerns about their wellbeing. It is vital young people continue to get the support they need to have confidence that their hard work will not be in vain and a bright future is still there to be grasped.

Future First stands ready to help schools and pupils in whatever ways we can. Our work to connect students across the country with alumni as powerful, relatable role models continues. We know that these connections boost confidence, resilience and motivation to study – all so needed right now.

Throughout last year’s lockdowns, we innovated to find ways of connecting pupils and alumni digitally, so students were able to gain insight and knowledge of potential career paths that were open to them and hear how ‘people like them’ had overcome difficulties and gone on to succeed.

We are redoubling our efforts to support schools and pupils. Whether it be virtual workshops, on-line work experience, digital insight days, or video profiles from our alumni volunteers and employer partners, we will ensure students are able to picture, plan and prepare for a positive future beyond the current gloom.

Alongside the students, the schools we work with also benefit greatly from the support of their alumni. Some have been using their past pupils to help prepare for mass testing (now delayed, of course), whilst others have used them to raise funds for much needed technology, or to support students working remotely.

Alumni networks have made a huge difference for the 7% of pupils attending private schools over the years. If we are ever to narrow the gap between the privileged and the other 93% of children attending state schools, alumni networks need to exist for all young people, giving them the information, tools and connections they need to succeed.

Alumni show students a world of opportunity and a future that could be theirs. They offer hope, confidence, and motivation – precious commodities for school students at the moment. For young people especially, belief that a brighter future lies ahead is fundamental to their success.

Whatever alternatives are devised to assess A-level and GCSE students this summer, we all know there is an abundance of young talent within our classrooms. Helping young people to harness their talents and believe in a bright and successful future is now more important than ever.