The need for education to be at heart of Levelling Up agenda and the key role for alumni networks

Lorraine Langham, Chief Executive of Future First, has said alumni networks should be recognised as a ‘powerful ingredient’ in the Government’s Levelling Up agenda. 

Responding to the recent White Paper she said: 

“The acute need for education to be at the heart of efforts to ‘level up’ across the country is laid bare in the Government’s new White Paper.

The widening chasm in prospects for young people, dependent on where they grow up and their circumstances, highlights the necessity of us to redouble our efforts to bridge this divide.

The White Paper states:

  • Where people grow up has a lasting impact on their life chances.
  • Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have poorer future job and income prospects.
  • A child eligible for free school meals in London has more than double the chance of going to university by age 19 than a child on free school meals outside London.
  • Low levels of social mobility across parts of the UK illustrate that family background matters.
  • In England, by age five, 75% of young children reach a good level of development in the South East, compared with 69% in the North West.
  • Children’s early experiences affect lifelong physical and emotional health.
  • These differences have become more acute due to the impact of COVID-19.

Future First knows that 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. That is why 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.

During the last year, when so many young people experienced severe disruption to their education, Future First continued its work to support thousands of students to strive for a brighter future. We:

  • Connected more than 71,000 young people with alumni volunteers and relatable role models
  • Registered over 12,100 alumni volunteers to continue growing the support available for students
  • Worked with nearly 400 schools across the UK

Yet, the Government’s White Paper shows how much still needs to be done and how many young people are failing to realise their full potential.

The belief, insight, inspiration and support that alumni networks can offer students is so important to helping them escape the disadvantage many continue to face and needs to be recognised as a powerful ingredient to levelling up.”