Our Purpose

Britain has a deep social mobility problem. We are working to change this.

We are the UK education charity helping young people in state schools and colleges broaden their horizons by connecting them with former pupils. Our mission is to see every state school and college supported by a thriving and engaged alumni community, which improves students’ motivation, confidence and life chances.

Future First provides schools and colleges with the technology, tools and support needed to mobilise their past pupil networks. Alumni can support the whole school community and delivery of school improvement plans, including meeting Gatsby Benchmarks and PHSE goals.

For too many young people, their start in life is limiting their future. They do not have access to relatable role models to help them understand what they can achieve, nor the networks, knowledge and tools to help them to get there.

Alumni can act as relatable role models, showing students a world beyond their current experience and expectations: a future that could be theirs.

The results of our research reveal the extent of concerns young people have for their working future and the lack of relatable role models available for them:

Only one in eight children from a low-income background is likely to become a high earner as an adult.

Nearly 50% of the most persistently disadvantaged children (on free school meals) don’t know anyone in a job they would like to do.

Less than half of 15-year-olds think ‘people like me’ will be successful compared with 71% of 11-year-olds and 74% of six-year-olds.

The results of our research reveal the extent of concerns young people have for their working future and the lack of relatable role models available for them:

Only one in eight children from a low-income background is likely to become a high earner as an adult.

Nearly 50% of the most persistently disadvantaged children (on free school meals) don’t know anyone in a job they would like to do.

Less than half of 15-year-olds think ‘people like me’ will be successful compared with 71% of 11-year-olds and 74% of six-year-olds.

Our programmes

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Become an employer partner

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Join an alumni network

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How do schools use their alumni?

Alumni helping break the isolation for rural schools

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16 April 2021

Alumni helping break the isolation for rural schools

For some schools working with Future First, the potential of an alumni network can come as something of a surprise.

Holbrook Academy near Ipswich joined with us in September and the results were almost immediate.

Denise Tinker, Holbrook’s Careers Lead, said: “We’re a rural school on a peninsula and, while many students stay local, a lot go far away and it was a question of how we were going to get hold of them to work with us still. Having Future First helped us achieve an amazing response. It went from six or seven former students at our last sign up to over 100 within little more than a night. And working with our Alumni Programme Manager is wonderful. She’s fantastic. She’s just there all the time, but not too much–if you know what I mean!”

Future First’s work with Holbrook is part of the Uni Connect partnership and has been running since Summer 2020. Despite the complications caused by the Covid crisis, we’ve been able to arrange virtual alumni interviews, a mentoring programme, a workshop about university and video diaries to mark “World of Work Day” during National Careers Week.

“The World of Work Day videos were great,” said Denise. “I set the event up on Google Classroom and invited speakers from the world of work to speak to the students. Then we did 20-minute breakouts from the live speakers, so students could just nip on and watch one of the videos Future First had arranged with alumni.

“It meant the students could pick and choose the ones they were interested in.”

During the workshop, the students were able to really get a sense of what life after Holbrook would be like. The alumni spoke about their pathway since leaving Holbrook, including their successes and failures, and students were able to use the chat facility to ask them questions.

Denise said: “When it came to going to university, the students were asking all sort of questions. Things like: ‘How nervous were you?’ and ‘Did you know anybody?’. It really worked well.

“The important thing was that the students got some really down-to-earth good advice from people who had been through it. One former student even talked about what to take to university with you–which was just brilliant. “It was real, basic, hands-on stuff that was just so valuable.”

“It was so good for our students to speak to people who had gone to Holbrook and actually hear their pathways. You could see immediately how much the students got out of it through the chat, with lots saying things like how brilliant the advice was.

“From the students’ point of view, it was all very much on their level – especially because many of the alumni in the workshop had only left school a few years ago.”

One student commented: “It was lovely to talk to ex students who are at uni now and get areal feel for what it really is like!” While another said how great it was to learn that support was available when you start university if you had any worries.

Denise added that as Holbrook is in a fairly isolated location many students stay local when they leave school, so the aim now is to inspire pupils to “get out there and do what they want to do”.

She also pointed out how useful it was for students to hear how the subjects they are doing now are still relevant to the world of work, the benefit of raising expectations and how important it is at this time for students to think of their future lives without limitations.

“One former student who is now working in radiotherapy said how her sciences were used so much, but so was her English.”

“For our students to hear that the subjects that they perhaps like or dislike are actually being used out in the world of work was fantastic.

“That ability to relate what they are doing now to their futures was so good.”

Contact us to discuss how we can support your school to work with former students. 

 

 

 

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Benjamin has confidence in the future

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17 March 2021

Benjamin has confidence in the future

Benjamin is a Year 12 student at Vyners School in Uxbridge. Inspired by a workshop he attended with several former students representing careers in the RAF, law, finance and health care, he spoke to us about his growing confidence for the future.

My experience of meeting former students from my school was quite an interesting one because you’re more sympathetic to what they are saying – they’ve been through similar things to what you’ve been through, they’ve come from a similar area and it makes the experience more personal.

We had a former student talk about his career working for Lloyds Insurance and this was interesting because he was telling us about the financial markets and how he operates. It certainly wasn’t a career I was thinking about in great detail, but listening to a former student talking about that particular sector gave me a wider understanding of some of the options open to me.

I felt like I was looking for a career in politics and economics perhaps – before meeting the former students – but after the talk, I felt more interested in the economics side. It basically gave me a balance and showed me the options in Finance too.

Meeting alumni has shown me what I can achieve because they’ve grown up in similar circumstances to me – they’ve done it, and so can I. It gives me more confidence to proceed with what I want to do. Seeing alumni who have been in my place at school, it makes me feel better about myself, because I can see where these people have gone and what they have achieved with their lives and how their experiences are similar to mine. I feel I can use that and develop on that to help inform my career choices in a more interesting way.

I think the biggest thing I can take away from the workshop and meeting alumni is the focus on skills. I’m more confident on the academic side, but I think developing the more softer and transferable skills for different careers is interesting because we’ve seen today a wide variety of careers from law to finance, the military to health and how they all need the same basic skills to help them perform well in their jobs.The main thing is that it re-emphasised and reminded me of the importance of the soft skills – it was there at the back of my mind but it just needed bringing to the fore-front which I appreciated.

I would very much like to return as an alumni speaker myself and talk to former students because it’s good to show people a variety of different careers that they can go into, and speak from your own personal experience, especially being so fresh out of the school – your experiences won’t be too dissimilar to theirs.

It makes a difference hearing from a former student because it makes them more relatable, because the classroom you are sitting in and listening to them, quite possibly they sat in and that makes it more personal and relatable.

After the workshop I’ve certainly become more confident and have a better approach to my career and my schoolwork because I can see where these people have gone to, and I know I’m now thinking about the right things and I’ve got a decent idea about what I want to do. It’s given me the encouragement to carry on developing some of the skills I’m currently working on.

Contact us to discuss how we can support your school to work with former students. 

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Nigel meets alumni at Sydney Russell School

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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. 

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