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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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 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.”

Read more success stories

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

 

 

 

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Mock interviews and alumni social events at Eggar’s School

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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.

Catherine, Eggar’s alumnus, acting as a mock interviewer.

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 info@futurefirst.org.uk

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The positive impact of former students at Madani Schools’ Federation

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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 info@futurefirst.org.uk

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