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.
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?
18 July 2019
Oxbridge aspirations at Outwood Academy Danum
Outwood Academy Danum in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, hosted an event for Year 9 students, inviting three former students back to share their journeys from Outwood to Oxbridge.
The event was an inspirational session for a small group of Year 9 students who the school believe have the potential to apply to Oxford or Cambridge one day with hard work and dedication. The three former students prepared PowerPoint presentations on their journey from Year 9 to Oxbridge which they shared during the session.
Claire Du Puget, HeppSY Administration Officer at the school, talked us through the itinerary for the session:
Three of our Oxbridge Alumni visited Outwood Academy Danum on Friday 24th May 2019. Each alumnus discussed their Post 16 and Post 18 choices, their pathway to Oxford and Cambridge and how the school supported them with their application process.
They discussed their time in Higher Education and emphasised how obtaining an Oxbridge degree has benefited their career pathway. By sharing their stories, our Oxbridge alumni showed our students just what can be achieved by studying hard and making the right choices.
In their presentations, they emphasised the value of aiming high, being curious and ambitious. They also advised our students to use their spare time productively, keeping up with hobbies because ‘what makes you different makes you’.
The session was extremely inspiring for our students and we are now organising visits to The University of Oxford and The University of Cambridge for July and October.
Kirsty, one of the former students invited back to the school, said, “I wanted to pass on how proud I am to be a Danum girl because of the great start the sixth form gave me, so this was my chance to give something back. Also it was a nice surprise to be reunited with an old friend from the school play, circa 2001!”
10 July 2019
The Importance of Former Students at Wickersley School and Sports College
Rachel Mullins, Careers & Post-16 Transitions Manager at Wickersley School and Sports College, tells us why former students are so important in helping to inspire current students.
Wickersley is the biggest school in Rotherham with over 2000 students, including a Sixth Form, so students range from age 11-18. It’s a very successful school, in the top high achieving schools in South Yorkshire. The school is still a comprehensive with a mixed selection of students with varying abilities.
We wanted to work with alumni because we’ve always had a culture where students really do value Wickersley so there have always been former students coming back to help in school and support our current students.
Personally, I took a group on a trip to Sheffield University and one of the student ambassadors happened to be an ex-Wickersley student. Just seeing the impact she made on the students compared to the other student ambassadors was so great to see and I saw first-hand the difference alumni could make. So with a thriving alumni community we believed we could really inspire our current students.
During our first few months of working with Future First we focused on using the online portal and understanding the key steps needed to build our alumni network, for example, signing up recent leavers at results day or using social media to reach out to former students.
My favourite portal feature so far is the mailbox; I really like being able to follow conversations and see who’s emailing into one central place. So even if it’s not me who’s sent the email I can recognise names and it’s nice to see who’s keeping in touch. The toolkit is also great with great resources that save the school a job such as the business cards and posters.
Our alumni events are great too, we had some HeppSY+ workshops back in May which were fantastic. I couldn’t believe we had that calibre of students coming back, it was great. The content was great and really interactive – even if the students weren’t directly wanting to go into a job that one of the alumni were doing, they still had the chance to ask so many questions on their journey to get there, why they made certain decisions etc. It was really interactive, not too long and easy to access for the students.
The workshop had a really positive impact on the students, they clearly enjoyed it and identified with it. I collected some feedback from the students and here are what two of them said:
“Talking to the former students and asking questions was really interesting and it helped me make informed decisions about my future” – Imogen
“Meeting ex-students was really good – It has helped teach me what kind of skills you need for different jobs” – Jess
26 June 2019
Engaging Alumni at Newcastle Sixth Form College
Mark Carton, Marketing Manager at Newcastle Sixth Form, tells us about working with Future First and engaging their alumni community.
Newcastle Sixth Form College is a state of the art £23m facility dedicated to A levels in the heart of Newcastle City Centre. We offer a broad range of A Levels and Access to Level 3 qualifications, and work with students across the region from Teesside to North Northumberland with a focus on clear career progression into HE, Degree Apprenticeships and Employment.
Each year we have opportunities for former students to come back and share their experiences with current students. We wanted to see if we could track the destinations of our students beyond university and HE into employment to see what the eventual career paths of our former students were. The Future First portal provides an organised, slick and professional means to engaging with former students and arranging those opportunities for them to return to their old school.
We are just about to hit a milestone of 100 former students signing up for the network. We have built the network through engaging e-marketing activities and social media posts. The network will offer us an amazing opportunity to build a bridge between existing and former students. We run HE events throughout the year, and often bring a large number of universities to speak at our events; we will be able to complement this by inviting former students who are currently experiencing university and HE whose insights and experience will be invaluable for our existing students.
We have always had a clear focus on progression and destinations for our students. The alumni network will offer us an opportunity to show that this progression is real, and provide an authentic voice to the concept that studying at NSFC can lead to a positive HE outcome, and career development.
We are holding our first event on 26th June, featuring alumni members in a speed dating style event for existing students to meet and chat with former students. We are also looking into having an ‘alumni representative’ on our board at the college which would be a significant opportunity for a former student to apply for and have an impact on the future development of the whole college. Over the next academic year, we want to invite alumni back as guest speakers, and mentors for our various creative writing, computing and business related outreach programmes for 2020.