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?
14 February 2020
Katie and Lewis show us the impact of having access to 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.
13 December 2019
Mock interviews and alumni social events at Eggar’s School
Sarah McKenzie, Community Liaison Officer at Eggar’s School, talks to us about their Future First membership and working with their alumni network.
We have about 950 students at Eggar’s, serving the east side of Alton and many of the surrounding villages. Our school day runs from 08:30 until 14:30 and we try to encourage our students to participate in extra-curricular opportunities after school with events such as the Lecture Club and our ten-point challenge ‘Eggar’s Experience’. It is designed to give students the chance to develop their abilities, identify talents and learn new skills alongside their academic work. Staff run 50+ after school clubs across a wide variety of topics from photography to beginners Spanish.
We involve alumni in a lot of our events, especially during National Careers Week which last year saw alumni come in to deliver mock interviews for Years 8s and 10s. We chose Year 8s to allow the students to start thinking about their GCSE options in the following academic year. Year 10s were chosen because we wanted them to think about their post-16 placements with only 18 months left of their time at Eggar’s. Not only did the mock interviews help our students to make informed decisions, they also helped dispel the myth that interviews are a stressful experience. The impact on the current students was immediate; they came out of the sessions saying it wasn’t as scary as they thought it would be, that the interviewer was friendly or that they’d asked the interviewer for advice on what they should do next. It was really encouraging and valuable for all involved. I know that the alumni enjoyed the sessions just as much as the students. We’re planning to repeat the exercise for National Careers Week 2020 – so watch this space!
We’ve also had alumni come in for Lecture Club which is part of the Eggar’s Experience and our careers and guidance programme. The lectures are often interactive with the speakers encouraging students to ask questions. Recently a former student came in and delivered an hour long lecture on future pathways and how to keep going despite unexpected setbacks. It was great to see our students interact with people in the world of work.
In September we hosted our inaugural alumni social event which was well attended. The evening consisted of drinks and nibbles, student led tours and brief presentations from members of staff. The alumni enjoyed being back and seeing the changes in the school. We had an alumnus who was Head Girl at Eggar’s in the 1950s – and she is now coming back to help us choose the next Head Boy and Head Girl! Another former student, Ellora, thanked us for putting on a wonderful event which had brought back many memories. She was even able to find her exact seat in her old English classroom!
One of our alumni wasn’t able to make the social event because he lives and works abroad. However, when I heard that he was over for work and staying locally, I invited him back for a tour of the school. We’re delighted to see any alumni who can’t make our official events. If there’s a gap in my schedule, I’ll happily show them around.
We’re planning another alumni social event in May 2020 and hope it will become an annual event.
If you’d like more information about Future First membership, email us at email@example.com
19 November 2019
The positive impact of former students at Madani Schools’ Federation
Imtiaz Patel, Deputy Head of Madani Schools’ Federation, talks to us about the positive impact of former students.
We are a federation of two schools, Madani Boys School and Madani Girls School. The schools are relatively small, both with ‘good’ Ofsted ratings and high student performance, especially in the Girls School. We’re an Islamic faith school with students from many different ethnic backgrounds and approximately one third of our students on free school meals.
Through joining Future First I’d like to see former students who work in a range of employment sectors and job fields to come in and speak to our young people through events like assemblies, award evenings and careers fairs. It would also be valuable to use our alumni to help our current students in arranging work experience placements depending on the expertise and support the alumni can offer.
The main alumni event we’ve had since joining Future First was during our awards evening where former students were invited back to speak to our young people. They came in and spoke about their challenges and their journeys since leaving the schools which hopefully left the students feeling inspired. The audience was not only filled with students receiving awards but also with parents and other members of the community who could see the impact that bringing former students back could have on the schools.
The alumni who returned to the schools included a GP and an Accountant. They were able to talk about what they’d learned from their time at school and how we supported them going forward with their careers. They’d both left the school about 10 years ago which was good because they were able to give a bit more of a comprehensive journey of their time since leaving.
I want our current students to be aspirational through having access to alumni role models and I want our alumni to be able to support the students in making well informed careers based decisions. It’s great for our young people to see live case studies of former students who once sat in their stools and on their chairs; seeing what they’ve gone on to do, taking different pathways within their career journeys. It’s also a brilliant opportunity for us as a school to be able to see our former students and keep up to date with what they’ve gone on to do.
If you’d like more information about Future First membership, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org