Our vision is a world where a young person’s start in life does not limit their future.
Why we exist
Britain has a deep social mobility problem. We are working to change this.
Only one in eight children from a low-income background is likely to become a high earner as an adult. Across the UK young people’s experience and opportunities are closely linked to the status of their parents and the area they grow up in.
Our research shows that nearly half of pupils from the poorest backgrounds (on free school meals) don’t know anyone in a job they would like to do. We know this affects young people’s perception of their own ability, their expectations of future success, and the extent to which they value their school work.
Meeting former students helps to change this, boosting young people’s confidence and motivation, and helping to transform their life chances.
Our mission is to see every state school and college in the UK supported by a thriving and engaged alumni community, which improves students’ motivation, confidence and life chances.
Access to relatable role models broadens students’ horizons, helping them to imagine a world beyond their own. Having grown up in the same community and sat in the same classrooms former students are ideal volunteers to be such role models.
For generations, private schools and universities have effectively harnessed the talent, time and support that former students can offer. Since 2009, Future First has been making it easier for state schools and colleges to do the same.
How do schools use their alumni?
25 January 2021
Nigel meets alumni at Sydney Russell School
Nigel is a Year 10 student at Sydney Russell School in Dagenham, East London. Nigel took part in a Future First alumni workshop in December, introducing Year 10s to pathways post-GCSE, and this is what he had to say.
Meeting former students has been very informative because I was confused about what I wanted to do after GCSEs and it really gave me the knowledge I needed. I think it will be beneficial to me in the long-run.
It makes a difference hearing from a former student because they are more relatable to our circumstances and they’ve been in our environment when they were my age, so I’m more inclined to listen to them than someone else.
Now I know that former students have been successful, it lets me know that I have a chance to be successful as well. I feel like it was very inspiring and I will be able to become my best self.
It has improved my confidence and my motivation, by letting me know where they made their mistakes so that I can avoid them. For example, one of them talked about revising from Year 10 – I think that’s one of the things I need to focus on – so that has motivated and inspired me to go forward and revise consistently.
Before I met the former students, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – I had an idea, but it was a bit confusing. The thing I’ll take home from today is that I will be able to be successful in the future – because I have seen their stories – and as long as I stay motivated and consistent in my studies, I will be able to reach whatever goal I have.
Contact us to discuss how we can support your school to work with former students.
05 May 2020
Siya and Nir share their experiences of the Future Me Mentoring Programme.
Siya and Nir, from Sydney Russell School, share their experiences of having a mentor through the Future Me Mentoring Programme.
Siya, Year 12 student
I think it was very useful having a mentor because they were closer to my age, I felt like I could relate to them more than my teachers. I think it’s encouraging to see someone who has been in the same position as you become successful.
Before I took part in the mentoring programme I had an idea of what I wanted to do in the future but after the programme it was much clearer. I was able to research different options and it was really helpful to hear from someone who’s actually experienced an apprenticeship.
One of the skills that I developed throughout the programme was my communication, I was able to talk about what I like and what I want to take further in life. I feel more confident about the future, before I just had an idea about what I wanted to do whereas now I’m able to visualise myself in a career; being able to see yourself in the future makes you believe in yourself a bit more.
I would recommend the mentoring programme to a friend. I think there are many young people in the same position as me who are unsure about their future and programmes like these can help give you clarity on what you want to do and help you explore different steps and how to get where you want to be.
Nir, Year 12 student
I found having a mentor really useful because the sole purpose of them being there was to help you with things like careers advice; it’s great to have a dedicated mentor for the programme to specifically ask questions to.
Originally I wasn’t sure what sort of career I wanted to go into but after hearing my mentor’s stories about working at Ernst & Young I found his role in business consultancy really interesting. It is something that would fit my current skill sets and something I’d find interesting and challenging to work towards in the future.
I think the mentoring programme made me more confident that I could be successful in the future. We planned the different routes that I could take and when you see the steps outlined it makes the end goal seem much more realistic. It also helped that our mentor was successful in his field and was able to achieve the sort of job that we might be aiming towards whilst being from the same background as us.
In the future I hope to study at university and I’ve gained a lot of tips on how to do so from the mentoring programme. It has helped me improve my decision making especially because my mentor has also gone through the same decisions in his past so I can learn from his experiences.
Contact us to discuss how we can support your school to work with former students.
14 February 2020
Katie and Lewis on apprenticeships and the impact of alumni role models
Katie and Lewis, both alumni of Robert Clack School, tell us how the Future First alumni programme has helped them and how they’re giving back to their old school.
Katie joined the alumni network and wanted to give back to her old school.
I became aware of the Future First network in sixth form through Mrs Monk who was running the programme and wanted everyone to get involved. During that time, Cushman & Wakefield came to the school to present their apprenticeship scheme to us. Historically, they had a relationship with a school in Clapham but the year I applied was the first year that they came to Robert Clack to form that partnership. The teachers were really supportive throughout the application process, I got the job and enjoyed it so much that I thought it was really important to go and give that back to my old school and continue that partnership.
The programme I was on was essentially an apprentice programme which was then stopped for a few years whilst Cushman & Wakefield merged with another company. Once that was finalised we designed a whole new apprentice programme which I was heavily involved in and I was really keen to drive that partnership with Robert Clack and make sure that students still had that opportunity that I had; I used the alumni network to make sure that support was given to students at the school.
I went in and presented to sixth form about the apprenticeship, what I do and what my day to day job looks like as well as my journey through the programme. I then made myself available to contact if any of the students had any follow up questions. One of the sixth form teachers, who Lewis and I both knew really well, put him and I in touch and asked me to give him guidance. I helped him through that process with tips and answering his questions during the application period. Once he became one of the successful applicants, we would meet regularly for catch ups to go over his questions, queries or any issues and try to support him, and now we have a fantastic working relationship.
I think it’s massively important that we go back to the school as role models for current students. As part of the alumni we’ve gone through similar things, we may even have similar home lives. There’s a resemblance one way or another and I think that’s why Lewis and I clicked so quickly because we have very similar home lives. It’s all well and good all of these wonderful people coming in and telling the students about the possibilities that are out there but when the students can see someone who has been in their shoes go on and be successful, have a fantastic job and love what they do it’s so much stronger.
Lewis was given help and guidance by former student Katie when applying for an apprenticeship.
When I was in sixth form, Katie came in to give a talk about Cushman & Wakefield where she was doing an apprenticeship. She gave an introduction to the apprenticeship and then she discussed how the apprenticeship was structured and more about the company. I thought it sounded quite interesting and very different to what I was studying so I signed up for more information and attended an insight day at Cushman & Wakefield to see the type of work I’d be doing if I got onto the apprenticeship. During the insight day we ran through a group project in which we had to work out the best options for a company who wanted to relocate their offices, and everything that would be involved in the process. We then presented our projects to each other at the end of the day. After that I decided to apply for the apprenticeship with the help of Katie who gave me advice and support throughout the process and stills continues today!
I’m currently in year 3 of the 5-year apprenticeship and I’ve just moved departments to the City of London agency where we look after clients who want to buy and lease property in the City of London and the outskirts of the city. I’m really enjoying being in this team, it’s probably one of the best places you can be as a UK agent because you are acquiring office space that is so competitive and exciting.
I wouldn’t have known what to do, especially within the first year of the apprenticeship, if it wasn’t for Katie. She was such a big help; we met up quite a bit in the first year for catch ups and coffee to go through what I should be expecting and how to get the most out of the apprenticeship. Katie also introduced me to a property network for young graduates and apprentices where you can attend events with professional speakers for free, of which I am now a committee member.
To give back to the school and alumni programme that helped me out, I joined the Future First alumni network at Robert Clack. Also, I created a mentoring programme at the start of 2019 for students in year 9, a few of which had behavioural difficulties like I did when I was at school. Being able to support them through that was great. After we finished the mentoring programme, which was really successful and had great feedback, we gave them a tour of the Cushman & Wakefield office and two of these students are coming back for work experience this summer. It’s gone full circle from me being introduced to the alumni to going back and helping the next group of students.