Our Stories

Here you'll find a sample of the many ways in which our member schools and colleges engage their alumni to support current students.

Our Stories

Schools

Fighting misconceptions with Stoke High School Ormiston Academy

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22 October 2018

Fighting misconceptions with Stoke High School Ormiston Academy

Stoke High School Ormiston Academy has been an academy since 2013 and we are a school that has challenges. The proportion of students that are eligible for pupil premium or who have special education needs is above the national average, and a high percentage have English as a second or foreign language. We also battle with a misconception that those who live in the IP2 postcode, in which the school falls, are unlikely to achieve. We decided to start working with our alumni to challenge this stigma and provide relatable role models for our young people to meet. The more I have met ex-students, the more I can see evidence that the assumption that they won’t be successful is simply... Read more
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Frances Bardsley Academy and Future First

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12 October 2018

Frances Bardsley Academy and Future First

Frances Bardsley Academy (FBA) is an all-girls school in Havering with a rich history stretching back to our beginnings in 1906. We have a diverse cohort at FBA with a huge variety of over 40 languages spoken by our students. Employability is an issue in Havering so we try to prepare our students for the world of work as much as possible, focusing on confidence and careers to support their futures. With a gap in women going into STEM subjects, we also encourage our students in these areas from a young age. As a former student of FBA myself, I often talk to students about my school days and know that they appreciate hearing about my experiences. So when the... Read more
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Why did Saint Benedict Catholic Academy, Derby choose Future First?

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09 August 2018

Why did Saint Benedict Catholic Academy, Derby choose Future First?

Nicola Campbell, Careers Coordinator and English Teacher: Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy is the only Catholic secondary school in the Derby area. We currently have around 1200 students and above average pupil premium numbers. Saint Benedict is a very diverse school where a great deal of languages are spoken. We decided to start working with Future First because we had contact details for a significant number of our alumni, but weren’t really utilising these connections. I also knew how much I enjoyed receiving communications from my former secondary school and wanted to give our school alumni the same opportunities to keep up to date with what is happening and get involved. Future First planned and delivered a World of Work... Read more
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Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Waterlooville, tells its story

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14 March 2018

Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Waterlooville, tells its story

Angela McQuiston, Head of Careers: “Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College is an Academy school in Waterlooville, near Portsmouth. We serve a wide catchment area with students travelling from Portsmouth, Fareham and even Hayling Island. With this comes a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. We have been building our alumni network for the past three years and inviting former students back for occasions like ‘professional days’. Some alumni said freeing up a whole day was difficult for them, which is why we started hosting short talks during our 20 minute tutor/assembly time instead. We cast the net quite wide – simply suggesting a day of the week and letting former students choose the day that works best for them.... Read more
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Tendring Technology College, Essex, tells its story:

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12 February 2018

Tendring Technology College, Essex, tells its story:

“Tendring Technology College is an 11-18 academy in North-East Essex with 1844 students altogether and 300 in the Sixth Form. As a College we are proud of our students’ achievements and there is no better way to motivate and inspire them than by sharing the successes and experiences of alumni. Future First provided a great tool to enable us to do this. Future First’s Core package enabled us to establish a careers programme that works for all our students. It allowed us to develop and refine our provision to best fit their needs. Future First’s expertise helped our staff feel empowered to take ownership of our alumni programme and go forward with the DIY+ package. We promote the use of... Read more
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Colleen tells her story

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26 January 2018

Colleen tells her story

Future First is pioneering a three-year project that will see alumni support a group of students from Year 9 through to Year 11. Participating students have been specially chosen because their schools believe that they will benefit the most from this opportunity. Former students will work with the group in a series of bespoke Future First workshops to raise their aspirations and help them overcome barriers to achieving their potential. The Employability Skills Project, funded by Rothschild & Co through their UK Charitable Giving Programme, is taking place at schools in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall and Newcastle. The project will see these students benefit from the support of former students with similar experiences to them, throughout a crucial stage in their... Read more
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Kingsbury High School, Brent, tells its story

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11 January 2018

Kingsbury High School, Brent, tells its story

“Looking at our Year 13s, I can see that the Alumni Day has had an enormous impact on them. It gave them role models, targets to aspire to and an insight into professions that they might not otherwise have considered.” – Andrew Mitchell, Aim Higher Manager Kingsbury High School is an inner London state school with academy status, in the borough of Brent. We have over 2000 students, with just over 400 in the sixth form. We decided to start working with our alumni to enhance the induction programme for new Year 12s. We wanted the new sixth formers to meet former students who could inspire them, give them the drive to succeed and set their mind on emulating their... Read more
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Ormiston Forge Academy, Cradley Heath, tells its story

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23 November 2017

Ormiston Forge Academy, Cradley Heath, tells its story

At Ormiston Forge Academy, we make sure all of our students have a careers interview in Year 11 and that they get lots of support with thinking about their futures. We have a rising number of students who go on to Higher Education. At the moment, around 70 students apply to university and higher apprenticeships. This year, one student went on to do a degree level apprenticeship in Surveying, which is great as they’re quite competitive. We’re planning on inviting him to come back and talk to current students about his experience in the future. I first started thinking about how I could work with our former students when we had a launch meeting in school to discuss how our... Read more
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St Dominic’s Sixth Form College, Harrow, tells its story

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26 October 2017

St Dominic’s Sixth Form College, Harrow, tells its story

Angela Inglese, Assistant Principal: “St. Dominic’s Sixth Form College is a Catholic Sixth Form College in Harrow. We have approximately 1200 students aged between 16 and 18 and around 100 members of staff. The college is very diverse. We are very popular in the local area so the rest of our intake is from a range of ethnic backgrounds. We are very proud to have been named The Sunday Times’ Sixth Form College of the Year for 2017. We decided to start working with our alumni about five years ago. We signed up to Future First because their ethos really resonated with us, particularly around the power of role models and the impact former students can have broadening young people’s... Read more
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Eastbury Community School, Barking, tells its story

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06 October 2017

Eastbury Community School, Barking, tells its story

Stuart Gander, Head of Careers Education: “Eastbury Community School is an all through school for three to 19-year-olds and there are roughly 1,850 students (primary school all the way up to sixth form). We are in one of the five most deprived areas of the country, and a large proportion of our students come from ethnic minority groups. We are a specialist maths and computing school and the number of pupil premium students is above the national average. We were recently voted the kindest school in the UK. We have been working with Future Fist for four years now, with the aim to inspire young people by inviting alumni back for all careers related events at the school. Events include... Read more
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Bodmin College, Cornwall, tells its story

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26 September 2017

Bodmin College, Cornwall, tells its story

Jayne Smith, Raising Aspirations Coordinator: “Bodmin College is an 11-18 in Cornwall. The area we’re in is the lowest quintile of students who access higher education. It’s an indicator that we have work to do in terms of aspiration raising. I’m the Raising Aspirations Coordinator at the school. I took on the role because I felt working on this would help the students’ life chances by opening doors for them. Before this, I was the Head of Art at Bodmin College.  I kept in touch with ex-students and would ask them back to share portfolios with the sixth formers. Undergrads came in to school to talk about university life and we would take our students to meet them at the... Read more
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Highworth Grammar School, Kent, tells its story

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07 September 2017

Highworth Grammar School, Kent, tells its story

Freyja Danielsen, Sixth Form and Careers Manager: We are a girls’ grammar school in Ashford, Kent and we have a mixed sixth form. At Highworth, as well as motivating students to work hard, we want students enjoy their experiences and want to study here. A few years ago and after graduating from university myself, we began to realise just how much universities use their alumni and could see how powerful former student stories could be. When we started to re-connect with people it became clear very quickly just how much our alumni were willing to do for us and more importantly, how much they truly wanted to do for us. We think it’s a brilliant concept and had heard that... Read more
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Grey Court School, Ham, tells its story

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16 June 2017

Grey Court School, Ham, tells its story

Bernie Corrighan, Careers Adviser: “Grey Court School is a mixed comprehensive for 11 to 18-year-olds. We opened a sixth form in 2014. We’re based in Ham which is one of the most deprived areas in London, despite being in the borough of Richmond upon Thames. Students come from a mixed background: there’re different cultures and races. Our free school meal percentage is in line with the national average and our last Ofsted rating was Outstanding. I’m the careers adviser at Grey Court and at another school. We’ve run careers events for the last 10 years. We wanted to link in more with our alumni to get role models for our sixth formers. Any alumni work we had done before was... Read more
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Skype Lessons from the Netherlands at Tiverton High School

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24 November 2016

Skype Lessons from the Netherlands at Tiverton High School

Tiverton High School has shown how alumni can play a key role in supporting students from a 1000 miles away. Former students can play a key role in the delivery of the core curriculum. Returning to their old classrooms, alumni enrich the curriculum by co-delivering lessons related to their careers, helping build students’ understanding of the real-world application of their learning whilst boosting their motivation to work harder at the same time. Tiverton High School is located in North Devon. Since many of their former students have moved away from the area, the school set out to find a way to involve alumni in the curriculum remotely. They decided to organise a series of talks, in which alumni use Skype to... Read more
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‘Send a Selfie’ at The Bridge Academy

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24 November 2016

‘Send a Selfie’ at The Bridge Academy

The Bridge Academy in Hackney has shown how a simple campaign involving recent leavers can be used to inspire current students. The school launched its ‘send a selfie’ campaign in October. They asked former students to take a selfie in front of their university building, to inspire current students considering the university route. The pictures will be displayed at the upcoming sixth form open evening, to show parents and students that students from The Bridge Academy end up at top universities. The featured picture is of Tyronne Ellis, in his first year of Business Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. This is just one example of the ways in which The Bridge Academy has harnessed the talents of its alumni... Read more
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Mentoring for High Achievers at Warden Park Academy

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16 November 2016

Mentoring for High Achievers at Warden Park Academy

Warden Park Academy, in Sussex, has worked with Future First for three years. They have harnessed the support of their former students in a whole host of ways, most recently as career speakers, mentors, and donors. In October, the school launched their Highly Able Mentoring Scheme. The programme involves intensive interaction between a former student who specialises in a specific subject area and high attaining Year 10 students. They have kicked off the programme with Luke Mitchell who is currently at university. The first session took place at the end of October, in which Luke co-taught a lesson on romantic poetry. He then ran an afternoon session focused on Literacy Criticism for 30 high attaining students. Due to great feedback from... Read more
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An Introduction to Sixth Form at Thomas Hardye School, Dorchester

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30 September 2016

An Introduction to Sixth Form at Thomas Hardye School, Dorchester

Thomas Hardye School, a secondary academy in Dorset, has been working with Future First since May 2016 to build an alumni community. They already have over 200 students on their network, including lawyers, managers, electricians and university students. In September 2016, Future First supported the school to run a day of workshops involving alumni for students on their first day of sixth form. The majority of students who took part are studying A Levels and hope to progress into further education, but many of them have limited exposure to adults in jobs they would like to do. The workshops aimed to broaden students’ horizons and motivate them to work hard by introducing them to former students who had gone through... Read more
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Alumni drop-in sessions at Ernest Bevin College

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16 August 2016

Alumni drop-in sessions at Ernest Bevin College

Ernest Bevin College is an 11-18 comprehensive in Tooting, London. The school have been building an alumni community with Future First since 2013. Enrichment afternoons are timetabled for sixth form students every Wednesday so that students can take part in a valuable activity within their normal timetable. Staff at Ernest Bevin have historically struggled to resource the afternoons and staff haven’t had the time to organise activities that would keep the boys in school. Rose Banks, sixth form study manager, worked with Future First to use the school’s growing alumni network to plan inspiring sessions, inviting former students to a timetable of talks each Wednesday. Each week, a former student returns to school and speaks about their pathway, from school to... Read more
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Raising Aspirations at Newall Green High School

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16 August 2016

Raising Aspirations at Newall Green High School

Newall Green High School is a mixed 11-18 comprehensive in Manchester. The school has been working with Future First for three years to grow a community of former students and embed a community culture across the school. According to the Social Mobility Index, the area has one of the worst records for social mobility in England. The school report that there are generations of unemployment in the area and that they want to give students and their families support to find out what career options are out there. The staff at Newall Green do fantastic work to help broaden students horizons. A ‘success wall’ lines the main entrance where former students appear on posters designed to inspire students as they walk... Read more
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Building Motivation at Wellfield High School

Wellfield High Sdchool is a secondary school in Leyland for 11-16 year olds and has been...

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16 August 2016

Building Motivation at Wellfield High School

Wellfield High Sdchool is a secondary school in Leyland for 11-16 year olds and has been building an alumni network with the support of Future First since September 2014. owing a period in special measures, exam results have improved remarkably, but raising aspirations remains a key challenge for the school. The school leadership selected 30 Year 10 students who were lacking in confidence to take part in Future First’s Building Motivation programme. Through a structured programme of three workshops, students were exposed to a range of inspirational alumni. Co-designed with teachers in the school, the programme also responded to local needs. For example, the school wanted to hear from alumni from BAE Systems- the largest local employer- as well as... Read more
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E-mentoring at St James School, Devon

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02 August 2016

E-mentoring at St James School, Devon

St James is a growing 11-16 comprehensive in Devon, with approximately 695 students. After a highly successful year in 2014, they have continued to work with Future First to grow and gain value from their alumni network, which now numbers over 350 former students. In 2015, St James embarked on an e-mentoring scheme targeting students allocated pupil premium to motivate and inspire them about life at school and beyond, as well as providing study advice and revision tips. In combination with other measures, e-mentoring has proved instrumental in giving Year 10 Kaydie the extra confidence and motivation to boost her grades, She has been more focused leading into exams. After talking through her options with her mentor, Alli, Kaydie is now... Read more
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Alumni in the Curriculum at Felpham Community College

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16 June 2016

Alumni in the Curriculum at Felpham Community College

Since 2013, Felpham has been working with Future First to expand its alumni network and invite former students in to share their knowledge and experience. Felpham aimed to boost the engagement of Year 9 students in their science lessons by involving scientific learning in their careers. This focus on science through alumni engagement also chimes with growing calls from businesses and government to upskill students in STEM subjects. The first week saw a visit from Victoria, an interior trim planner at Rolls Royce. During the session, students looked at the materials science which Victoria uses in her job on a daily basis. The students had the opportunity to explore areas such as product testing by conducting ‘elongation tests’ on sample... Read more
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Learning to game at Oathall Community College, Haywards Heath

Oathall Community College, Haywards Heath, has been working with Future First since 2013 to engage former students...

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06 May 2016

Learning to game at Oathall Community College, Haywards Heath

Oathall Community College, Haywards Heath, has been working with Future First since 2013 to engage former students and invite them back to support current students. Former student, David Amor, went back to school to speak to an A Level Computing class who were completing their first big piece of programming coursework. The class teacher hoped that by learning from an expert the students would gain a deeper understanding of the scheme of work and also of the wide variety of jobs that are available to them. David delivered an engaging presentation about his career as a computer games developer and talked about factors that make a good computer game. Much to the students delight, he spoke about candy crush and the possible... Read more
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Radio 1 DJ heads back to school

In February, 2016, Future First took part in Radio 1's 1 Million Hours campain, which aims...

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06 April 2016

Radio 1 DJ heads back to school

In February, 2016, Future First took part in Radio 1’s 1 Million Hours campain, which aims to encourage young people to give up time to volunteer in their communities. The campaign kicked off with Future First taking Radio 1 presenter, Scott Mills, back to his old school, Crestwood College in Eastleigh, to speak to Year 8 students about the possibilities of a career in media. The event was a fantastic success. Scott spoke about his experience at school, and his persistence to find work experience on local radio channels. He was made honorary Deputy Head Boy after chatting to current students about his career path which took him from Hampshire local radio to acting, an appearance on BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing and presenting Radio 1’s... Read more
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International Women’s Day at Ark Helenswood Academy

ARK Helenswood Academy is one of Future First's 'In House' schools, which sees a Future First...

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03 March 2016

International Women’s Day at Ark Helenswood Academy

ARK Helenswood Academy is one of Future First’s ‘In House’ schools, which sees a Future First staff member working on site to rapidly embed a culture of alumni engagement across the fabric of the school. The school have made great progress and have have invited alumni back to support in the curriculum, to speak in assemblies and take part in inspirational workshops. For International Women’s Day, Helenswood’s Head Girl organised an inspiring alumni event for her year group as they prepared for their GCSEs and leaving Helenswood.  Future First helped her make the event a reality by briefing teachers on facilitation techniques, reaching out to former students to come and share their stories and creating  resources. The event resulted in fantastic feedback from... Read more
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Employers

Taylor Wessing tells its story

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19 July 2017

Taylor Wessing tells its story

  “Taylor Wessing started working with Future First seven years ago. We were attracted to the charity because of its focus on social mobility and also because it was a start- up at the time. It’s in our culture to recognise and support innovation. I’m the lead on Taylor Wessing’s social mobility programme and our partnership with Future First is an important part of that. Future First runs our Career Insight Days for Years 12 and 10 students. Around 40 students from five/six different schools take part each time and we run three a year. Schools from all over the UK are given the chance to send students along – we’ve even had schools from Wales travel to London. These... Read more
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Inspiring City Role Models

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07 September 2016

Inspiring City Role Models

2014/15 was the start of a two year partnership with the City of London Corporation. The project took City workers back to their old schools in the City’s neighbouring boroughs to bring the curriculum to life, running 13 sessions for over 500 students. The programme also signed up 511 City workers to support their old schools across the UK. In 2015/16, we ran 38 sessions with even more City role models and students involved. In 2008, Vanessa Vallely founded the business networking site www.wearethecity.com as a vehicle to help city women to connect. She is also a professional and sought-after motivational speaker. After connecting with Future First, Vanessa attended her first event at Haggerston School in Hackney, and has since... Read more
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Insight Days at The Wellcome Trust

   

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06 September 2016

Insight Days at The Wellcome Trust

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Alumni

Jyssica returns to All Saints Catholic High School, Kirkby

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27 September 2018

Jyssica returns to All Saints Catholic High School, Kirkby

Jyssica Murphy went to All Saints Catholic High School and is now a Health and Safety Advisor. I was in middle sets at school. I misbehaved sometimes but for the most part I enjoyed school. Maths was a particular challenge for me as I doubted my confidence. My teacher was really good and he always pushed me and told me that I could do it but I struggled to believe him and looking back, I wish I’d applied myself more. After leaving school I re-sat my Maths GCSE so I could that I could apply for a college course. I was disappointed that I didn’t pass in school when I knew that I had the potential to do better. I... Read more
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Paul’s story

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09 April 2018

Paul’s story

“School was a very positive place for me. There were lots of opportunities available to us, especially for sports, music and drama. I was really pleased that I was at Meadowhead, because I had friends at other schools that didn’t have nearly as many opportunities as we did. I was involved in sports club, drama and school productions. I was also a form and year representative and a member of the school council. I wanted to make sure I took advantage of every opportunity available to me. One of the main challenges at school was having to be organised and keep on top of everything, which is something that I didn’t really think about at that age. I currently lecture... Read more
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Toyin’s story

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28 March 2018

Toyin’s story

“I am currently undertaking a hospital training post in oral maxillofacial surgery, restorative and special care dentistry. This is a mixed speciality post, which provides lots of exposure to different aspects of dentistry. After I finished my year of compulsory training in general dental practice, I wanted further exposure in the hospital setting. I am now in my second year of hospital training and really enjoying it. Working in the hospital environment can be challenging, but this really appeals to me. The treatment that I help to provide is generally more complex than that of general dental practice. This is a great opportunity for me to enhance existing clinical skills and develop new ones.  The patients treated in hospital often... Read more
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Jenny’s story

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09 November 2017

Jenny’s story

“I was quite a conscientious student at school. I worked really hard in class and took part in all sorts of extra-curricular activities, from performing in school productions to captaining the netball team. I was Head Girl, a real privilege and a game changer for me in terms of my confidence. In retrospect I worried unnecessarily about my coursework and exams. I don’t regret it but I could have been a little more laid back at times! Back in the 90s when I attended Orleans Park School they didn’t have a sixth form. I decided to attend a private day school in Hammersmith for my A-levels. After leaving school I went to the University of Bristol to study Economics and... Read more
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Sarah’s story

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13 October 2017

Sarah’s story

“I was lucky that I found school work relatively easy, but this meant I wasn’t one of the cool kids. In Year 7 I was one of those students always putting my hand up, but I soon learnt to keep my head down to avoid attention. My ambition when I was at Oathall was to become a vet. This was something I decided in Year 9 after being inspired by spending time on the school farm. I definitely didn’t have a great love of science from a young age, so saw studying the sciences as a means to an end in becoming a vet. I studied every hour possible for my A levels and ended up getting straight As. I... Read more
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Dave’s story

“I guess I’ve had a bit of an odd journey. I was the uncool, nerdy kid...

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19 May 2017

Dave’s story

“I guess I’ve had a bit of an odd journey. I was the uncool, nerdy kid at school. I was rubbish at sports, I came last in everything. I was kind of focused but it was the end of Year 9 before I realised I actually had to do some work. So I ended up with a string of Bs and Cs. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do when I was at school. I originally wanted to be an army officer. When I was 20, I decided to do some A levels at Cornwall College in Chemistry, Physics and Biology. It was then that I realised I had an aptitude for computer programming. I did a BTEC... Read more
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Serkan’s Story

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26 August 2016

Serkan’s Story

“I was always very creative at school. I always thought I’d be an architect or designer but from year nine on wards, I started to develop a keen interest in science. It was then that I started to go to after school sessions with alumni in various healthcare professions. We heard from physios, nurses, psychiatrists, engineers and specialist doctors. We took part in group discussions about the day-to-day experiences of medical professionals. They gave us advice about what we should study, the grades we needed and the extra things like work experience or even the importance of shaking hands. In schools like mine students don’t know the importance of these things. The advice they shared gave me the foundation to go... Read more
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