The Benefits of Alumni at Soham Village College
Vicky O’Connor, careers lead at The Streetly Academy, talks about their partnership with Future First.
I was brought in to The Streetly Academy to lead on the careers programme within the school; the head and SLT are very passionate about raising the aspirations of the pupils and wanted to improve their current careers programme by having someone who was dedicated to this full time. Before I came in to the school the provision was quite ad-hoc and minimal, whereas now the careers programme is implemented across all year groups and events and activities are scheduled frequently across the year.
I began by creating a questionnaire to find out what the goals and aspirations were of our pupils, we then used the answers to map out what kind of careers provision we would need. We cater to the aspirations of the students through their own responses and needs and we track this across the school. We’ve seen that goals and aspirations are a lot higher in year 7 and then dip in year 9 and 10. Based on the way that this programme is catered to the goals of the students, we then address these ‘dips’ in aspiration/goal setting through more specific intervention and activities.
I want to make sure that as well as thinking about their grades and how important they are, that the pupils get a chance to see how these are important within the wider context of jobs and careers.
One of the main reasons that I chose to work with Future First is that alumni can provide direct relevance to the students. With an alumni speaker the pupils are given a link to what they’re saying as they know this person had been sat in their seat, in their position. Alumni provide more ways for pupils to believe in themselves.
Using the alumni portal has been a much easier way of engaging and sustaining our alumni network; in previous roles I’d worked with alumni before, mostly using spreadsheets and my own database of alumni information. Future First have made it easier to contact alumni, we don’t have to manually input any data, it’s easier and safer to use when we engage our alumni community.
We have a lot of events planned in the coming year where we know our alumni will be brilliant role models for our students; for our year 7s we’ll be running a ‘The Apprentice’ style event where we want our alumni to act as judges. We’ll be having Future First in to lead an event called ‘What is The World of Work Like’ for our year 8s which will go through key skills and information about choosing and entering into a career, as well as Year 9 option days where we’ll be having our alumni in to speak about each subject and its relevance to their jobs, so that we can link the curriculum to potential career paths. As well as these events we’ve got CV workshops, mock interviews, and careers speaker sessions where alumni will get a chance to talk about their careers for students unsure of what their paths might be.
Working with Future First so far we’ve really appreciated how easy it’s going to be to keep track of our students as they go on to get jobs or go into further study after finishing their exams. We’ll be able to keep track of what our students go on to do. We want to build a community from this, so that we can keep in touch and keep that connection with students who are at The Streetly Academy now and in the future.
To sign up to our alumni network as a school or college, click here.