‘Old school tie’ networks for South West’s state students

12,000 students in 40 schools to benefit from alumni skills and connections

Thousands of state secondary students across the South West are to benefit from the experience of former students designed to inspire them to career confidence and academic success.

The 12,000 students from 40 secondaries and sixth form colleges across Cornwall, Devon and part of Somerset will be linked with alumni whose experience in a wide range of professions and vocations will help students make the link between their education and future careers and develop skills necessary to succeed in work.

The programme aims to build students’ confidence that ‘people like them’ can succeed in their chosen career and boost motivation to work hard in school now.

The Sustainable Alumni Communities Project will be delivered by the national education charity Future First in partnership with SSAT, the schools membership organisation. It will be funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company set up by the government in 2015 to transform the provision of careers education and advice for young people and inspire them about the opportunities offered by the world of work.

The South West region, Cornwall in particular, has one of the lowest levels of employer engagement in schools in Britain.

The scheme will enable schools and colleges to build a sustainable network of former students who can support current and future generations of students as role models, inspiring speakers, mentors, and work experience providers.

Each school will be supported by a Future First alumni officer who will work to engage and build a community of former students and to embed a long term culture of alumni and employer engagement. Schools will have access to an online database platform to collect contact and employment details of former students and staff will be trained on how best to use the untapped wealth of talents of their alumni.

The initiative builds on Future First’s proven work in more than 400 state secondaries nationwide enabling schools to harness the experience of alumni.

Future First/YouGov research shows alumni are vital in motivating students to succeed with 75 per cent of students attending a Future First led event say they are inspired to work harder in school now.

Christine Gilbert, Executive Chair of Future First and a former Ofsted Chief Inspector said there was a huge need to support state educated students to make the difficult transition from school to work and to drive more ambitious thinking about their expectations of work in the modern world.

“Every state school student should have the opportunity to succeed in life after school, regardless of their background,” she said. “Many schools are already harnessing the skills and experience of alumni as role models who inspire and motivate current students. If students see people like them have succeeded, they are more likely to believe they can too. They work harder and have higher expectations of success. We want more schools to see the benefits of using their alumni as a powerful resource. “

Claudia Harris, CEO of the Careers and Enterprise Company, said, “We are delighted to award Future First with funding to continue its amazing work. There are a huge number of extraordinary organisations working across the country to connect business to schools and colleges, creating encounters that inspire and inform young people about the future. We look forward to working with Future First and seeing the impact it continues to have on the young people it works with.”

State schools and sixth form colleges in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset are eligible to take part in the scheme. They can apply via the SSAT website link https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/sac/.

Future First research shows :

  • Ex-state school students are ten times more likely to view themselves as unsuccessful compared with their privately educated peers. [1]
  • 70 per cent of 16 to 19-year-olds think it will be hard to get a job when they leave school or college. [2]
  • Nearly 39 per cent don’t know anyone in a job they would like to do. [3]
  • More than 10 million British adults are willing to support current students at their former state school or college. [4]


For further information on Future First visit  www.futurefirst.org.uk


For further information please contact:

Alex  Shapland-Howes. Managing Director, Future First. 0207 239 8933 alex@futurefirst.org.uk

Anna Darling. Senior Communications Officer, 0207 239 8933 anna@futurefirst.org.uk

Sue Crabtree. Press Officer. 0207 239 8933   sue@futurefirst.org.uk

For out of office hours queries contact :

Alex Shapland-Howes. Managing Director, Future First. 07432 714226



About Future First.

Future First is a leading national education charity with the vision that every state school and college should be supported by a thriving engaged community of former students who help schools do more for current students.

Future First works in 400 state schools and colleges across Britain enabling state schools to harness the talents of alumni to inspire and support current students as career and education role models, work experience providers, mentors and e-mentors, governors, donors and fundraisers and as volunteers more widely.

The 150,000 former students  registered with Future First to stay connected with their former state school or college include leading employers, celebrities and everyday heroes in a range of careers from the professions of law and medicine to vocations like plumbing and photography and recent school leavers now in further education.

Every day, Future First alumni are acting as relatable role models to students in their old schools with inspirational and achievable stories.


About the Careers and Enterprise Company.

The Careers & Enterprise Company exists to help inspire and prepare young people to take control of their futures. To do this, it will help them make the link between their education and future career and build the attitudes and attributes they will need to succeed. By filling gaps in the provision of careers and enterprise activities across the country and by increasing employer engagement it will help all young people achieve their potential.


[1] 3 vs 33% thought that people who went to their school would be ‘very successful’ YouGov Survey Results for Future First, 2013, Sample Size: 2040 UK Adults.

[2]  YouGov Survey Results for Future First, 2011, Sample Size: 510 16-19 year olds

[3] YouGov Survey Results for Future First, 2011, Sample Size: 510 16-19 year olds.

[4]   YouGov Future First poll  2011