FAQs

Why should schools get involved?

By signing up to Future First, you'll be joining a national cross-sector movement to fight educational inequality.

We'll work with you to build a thriving alumni community that will help you do even more for your students. We will provide resources, share best practice and guide you through the process of embedding alumni engagement across the school.

Using our secure web platform which is fully compliant with all data protection requirements, you will be able to build a sustainable network of former students that you can access for generations to come. Over 90% of teachers from member schools tell us that the work they did with alumni increased students' knowledge about career and education pathways and that hearing from alumni improved ability to make informed decisions about their futures.

Alumni can support you:

• As role models
• As careers speakers
• Supporting lessons
• With work experience opportunities
• As mentors
• In volunteering
• As governors
• As fundraisers

What's provided as part of the membership?

Our ConnectEd programme will help you build, engage and sustain a thriving network.

We offer the expert support, technology and resources needed to harness the power of your alumni community, delivering significant, measurable impact for a small investment of time and money. Through themed activities, tailored support materials, and our expertly crafted timesavers and tools, our programme and specialist team can make a real difference for your learners, school and wider community.

As a ConnectEd member you will receive:

● Expert support from a dedicated Alumni Programme Manager
● Access to a tailor-made alumni technology platform
● Unlimited posters showcasing the success of your alumni to display in school or college
● Three facilitated workshops with your alumni, delivered online or in school or college
● Staff training and support to deliver resourced sessions
● Digital resources including virtual work experience materials, timesavers and tools
● Access to employers, employer programmes and work experience opportunities
● A programme focused on those students you believe will benefit the most.

Do you offer any standalone services?

In addition to our membership offer, there are a number of additional services that Future First can provide for a fee:

Workshops and assemblies

Future First offer a variety of alumni- based workshops and assemblies for students. All Future First events are facilitated by trained, experienced and DBS cleared staff. In all sessions alumni play the central role in offering informal advice to students and sharing their career and education experiences through discussion and practical activities.

• Our sessions are built around three key themes:
• Growing confidence, motivation and self-belief
• Information about next steps and jobs
• Linking the curriculum and life beyond school

Staff strategy and training sessions

Schedule a meeting or training session with one of our expert Alumni Programme Managers to get your alumni strategy off to a flying start. They will advise you on how to develop an effective alumni activity plan for the year, and give guidance for growing your network. We can train large groups of staff and governors on alumni engagement to embed a culture of alumni support across your school or college.

Alumni posters

Future First can source inspirational alumni posters that showcase the talents of your former students for students as they walk through your corridors. Each one has a photo and inspirational tagline such as, 'I went to Grange Hill School and now I provide life saving medical care for my patients.' Shruti, Junior Doctor.

What's the school / college commitment?

We want to help every school and college build an alumni network that they will engage for the long term. To make this work, schools and colleges need to commit to making alumni engagement a whole school priority and dedicate staff time to running the programme.

Schools and colleges should appoint a strategic lead who sits in the senior leadership team to have oversight of the programme and an operational lead should be given approximately one hour or so per week to work with your Alumni Programme Officer to run things day-to-day. If you're on core membership, your Alumni Programme Officer could come and run a training session at an INSET day or all staff briefing to make sure all staff know how they can benefit from alumni.

Can you offer your services for free?

As we are charity and operate on a non-for-profit basis, we unfortunately can't offer any free membership packages. If cost is a barrier for your school or college, please get in touch as we would be happy to explore fundraising options we could pursue in partnership.

We are supported by sponsors and trusts to develop our current programmes, design innovative new programmes and packages that contribute to best practice and offer the latest thinking, tips and resources for our member schools and colleges.

What will the database platform allow me to do?

Our database platform is a core part of the service.

- It enables you to store your alumni data securely online and makes keeping in touch easy, so that you never lose track of what your students go on to do. Your network can update their information whenever they wish, and have full control of their preferences, which makes the system compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998 and EU General Data Protection Regulations.

- It allows you to collect all your leavers’ information as they go on to the next stage of their education, training or career.

- You’ll be given a link to a page where your school’s alumni can sign up. It will ask for their personal details, information about their education and employment, the year they left and what sort of support they’d like to offer to current students.

- You’ll be able to login to view all alumni details as your network grows. You can search and filter your network of former students in a range of ways, such as by leaving year, what they studied at university, or what support they would like to offer. For example you could look for students who have left since 2004, studied science at A-level, and are willing to act as a mentor.

- You can send direct e-mails, updates and invites to your alumni through the platform.

- You can create activities, invite alumni to RSVP, and keep a record of attendees.

- You can invite 'friends' of the school or college to sign up.

- Our Digital Toolkit is also available on your portal. We continue to develop the toolkit in line with best practice, providing detailed guidance, lessons plans, templates and resources to support alumni sessions; mentoring relationships; and work shadowing. The toolkit will also support you to recruit and communicate with alumni.

How do I sign my leaving students up?

Our staff will provide you with the help and support necessary to make sure all of your leaving students are signed up.

Your current students can either sign up via your bespoke online link, or you can upload your leaver data in bulk via a spreadsheet. Your signup link and instructions for the bulk upload are on the alumni portal under ‘sign up information’.

We recommend briefing your students on the purpose and benefits of joining your alumni network beforehand as they will be far more likely to respond to the tracking survey we send if they are expecting it. Check the toolkit for template materials.

How can I reach out to alumni who left long ago?

There are lots of ways to reach out to your former students including:

- Using Future First's press officer to contact local press
- Posting information on your website and social media
- Sending promotional materials to school or college staff and parents to sign up those they are in touch with

Get in touch to hear more ways of reaching out!

Can other volunteers sign up?

Our portal allows you to sign up 'friends' (such as ex-staff, parents and local employers) as well as alumni, so you can keep all volunteer data in one secure system. You can switch this functionality on in the 'my account' section of your portal. Friends sign up using the same form as alumni.

Is personal information safe?

We are committed to ensuring that alumni information is secure. We have put technical and organisational measures in place that are designed to safeguard and secure the information that we collect, and our systems and processes are fully compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998 and EU General Data Protection Regulations.

Individual student records will only be accessible by staff of your school and Future First. Every member of Future First staff with access to the data receives full data protection training.

Future First has been awarded the Cyber Essentials Plus certification. We are registered with ICO and you can find further details in our privacy policy here.

Can any school or college in the UK sign up?

Future First is currently available to any state-funded primary school, secondary school or college in England and Wales.

If you are interested in becoming part of the programme and are unsure about whether your school or college qualify, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss the different ways that Future First can support you.

My question is not answered here, what should I do?

Get in touch! You can email info@futurefirst.org.uk and we will always be happy to talk in more detail about the service, what we can do for your school or college, and answer any queries you might have.

If I sign up, what am I committing to?

Once signed up, there is no obligation to get involved straight away. We understand that life is busy and time can be hard to find. The time spent volunteering ranges from one-off commitments like taking part in a workshop to ongoing support such as becoming a mentor.

You’ll be asked to identify the ways in which you might like to help as part of the sign-up process and your school or college will send occasional updates, news and opportunities to support the students, so you can pick and choose depending on what works best for you.

Once signed up, you can login to your profile area at any time to manage your preferences and update your details.

I've moved far away from my school, can I still help?

Yes! There are lots of ways to support your old school from afar. You could appear on an inspirational poster showcasing your chosen career, you could record a video talking about what you’re up to now or even mentor a student online. Check out this case study from Tiverton High School to see how they use their alumni who have moved abroad.

Future First isn't currently working with my school...

We'll keep your details safe and if they decide to join us, we'll be in touch. Alternatively, you can contact them directly to see how you might be able to support current students.

Can I volunteer at schools that aren't my own?

Our focus is on reconnecting schools with former students because they relate so well to current students. If you’re interested in volunteering at a different school, get in touch with our friends at Inspiring the Future to see how you can get involved.

Who can be a role model?

Everyone! We want to reconnect with former students in diverse careers and courses. Whether you’re still at university, studying for an apprenticeship or in a career, we want to hear from you.

What if I didn't enjoy my time at school?

There will be lots of students who are struggling with particular parts of school life. A student may relate to your story or benefit from hearing how you overcame barriers in life.

Why does the email address on my account look strange?

Your email address may have an additional plus sign and some numbers added to it. That is because at some point you registered for more than one account with Future First with the same email address. This includes if you used the same email to register to manage a school’s alumni network. You can either login to your account(s) and edit this information yourself, or contact us at networks@futurefirst.org.uk.

What does Future First do with my personal data?

We are committed to ensuring that alumni personal data is secure. You can read more in the school/college supporter privacy policy here, which must be agreed to before signing up to support a school/college.

We have put technical and organisational measures in place that are designed to safeguard and secure the information that we collect. Future First’s systems and processes are fully compliant with the Data Protection Act and EU General Data Protection Regulations. Future First has been awarded the Cyber Essentials Plus certification and we are registered with the ICO.

How can I support Future First’s work with current students?

There are a number of ways you can get involved as a Future First partner. From hosting career insight workshops at your offices, to supporting local schools to fund activities with their alumni community, we can work with you to develop a programme of activity that works for you. You may wish to sponsor events at the schools of your employees, so that they can give back to the next generation and tell them about opportunities in your sector.

How do your programmes meet our objectives and goals?

All Future First employer programmes tackle social mobility, and work to ensure that no child’s opportunities are limited by their background. Specific outcomes will vary from programme to programme, but you are likely to be addressing one or more of the following:

- Improving diversity of your talent pipeline
- Widening access to opportunities
- Developing employability skills
- Providing meaningful volunteering opportunities for your staff and their development
- Supporting your local community in a sustainable way
- Sharing expertise with the next generation, and improving awareness of issues important to your industry

All of our programmes involve a combination of staff volunteering small amounts of their time as well as a financial contribution for services so they can add welcome variety to a CSR offering. Find out more about becoming an employer partner.

How much do your programmes cost?

That depends on the scale. Though there are standard prices for career insight days, these will vary depending on who you would like to reach out to, how many events you’d like to run and what student numbers you’d like on each day. Bespoke programmes are costed on a case by case basis. Email info@futurefirst.org.uk to find out more.

Is there a guide to using the portal?

Yes, just login to the alumni portal and then you’ll be able to open the online portal guide which can be found in the Digital Toolkit.

I/my colleague can't login!

If you're unable to login to your alumni portal, try the following:

1. Check that the email address you're logging on with is the one you've registered to your account. Ask your Alumni Programme Manager or another portal user to check this in the 'my account' section of your portal.
2. In the 'my account' section of your portal, ensure your name and email appear in the 'active' list. If it's in the 'inactive' list, just click 'enable'.
3. If you can't remember your password, click here to set a new one.
4. If none of the above tips work, try to login to the portal outside of the school network. If it functions, then the issues you're experiencing may be due to web filters applied in school. Email support@futurefirst.org.uk and we'll be happy to speak to your IT or Network Manager to help them resolve the issue, or you can give them this guide.

If the portal is functioning but some parts aren't displayed properly, this may be a compatibility issue related to the software used by Internet Explorer. We recommend using Chrome for the best user experience, but if you only have access to Internet Explorer then try the following steps to resolve this issue:

1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Click the tools button (usually looks like a cog symbol), and then click 'compatibility view settings'.
3. Under 'add this website', enter https://networks.futurefirst.org.uk/ and then click ‘add’.

I want to be added as a portal user for my school or college. How do I do this?

If you have a colleague who already has a portal account, ask them to login to the alumni portal and go to the ‘my account’ section where they can add additional users.

If you’re unable to access your alumni portal to add extra users, email support@futurefirst.org.uk and we can do this for you.

Can I use the alumni portal on a private or incognito browser?

It’s very important that you do not use an private/incognito browser window when accessing the portal if you have access to more than one school/college’s alumni portal, or you share a computer with someone who does.

Using a private/incognito browser window (i.e. one that disables your browsing history) to access the alumni portal for different schools/colleges may lead to data from the alumni portals you or others you share the computer with being shared across tabs, and could result in incorrect alumni data being displayed.

A public browser window is the standard one that opens when you open your default web browser. Usually, private/incognito browsers must be manually selected by the user, by right clicking on the browser icon or selecting ‘file’ and then ‘private window’ when the browser is open.

Why have I received an email asking me to login and set a password twice?

You may have received an email asking you to login and set a password for your alumni account. If you have received this email twice, you may have more than one account registered with Future First. To disable this, you can login to your accounts and disable any accounts which you do not want to use. Alternatively you can contact us at support@futurefirst.org.uk for assistance.

What do I do if I have a technical issue or query which isn't covered here?

Take a screenshot of the issue you've encountered and send the image by email to your designated Alumni Programme Manager, or if you have DIY+ membership contact support@futurefirst.org.uk.

In your email, outline the steps taken since experiencing the issue, and the browser type (i.e. Chrome, Internet Explorer) and version of the browser.

Future First's tech team will investigate the issue and regular updates will be sent to you.

We’re happy to answer any additional questions you have. You can email networks@futurefirst.org.uk or call 0207238933 and speak to a member of our team.