Alumni communities for every state school and college

Future First has developed a robust process for helping schools develop sustainable communities of alumni, parents and local community members engaging both the current school community and those who have lost touch – using a secure online platform to support that connection.

The work of Future First is a collaboration between our expert team, school staff, students and pupils, employers and alumni. Future First has a team of dedicated Alumni Officers who work with primary schools, secondary schools and colleges to help them build and manage their community of supporters. Alumni Officers are experts in their field and offer practical guidance and advice for school staff.

We take an enabling approach. We work with schools and colleges to embed alumni and supporter engagement across the fabric of the school and lives of the pupils and students so that each network is sustainable and accessible for generations to come.

How do we do it?

STEP 1 | Sign up leavers

Our first step is to sign up all final year students so they can keep in touch from their last day. Future First provides a secure online platform that helps schools to collect student contact details, keep those contact details up to date, send out communications and search and filter through their alumni to find volunteers for specific needs. To try out the portal please contact info@futurefirst.org.uk and request our guest log in.

STEP 2 | Reach out to former students

We also help schools to reach out to former students who have lost touch using press, social media, employer and university partnerships, and our Back to School Week campaign to encourage alumni to sign up.

STEP 3 | Engage former students

Schools regularly contact former students with updates, newsletters and opportunities to get involved. An engaged network helps alumni feel part of the school community.

Step 4 | Track their journeys

We help track progression routes and destinations via our annual tracking survey and online platform. Schools can capture their former students' journeys by asking them to update their details every year.

Step 5 | Invite former students back to school

The next step is to invite alumni to support current students by bringing them back as inspiring speakers, or asking them to provide mentoring, work shadowing or ' a day in the life' video profiles.

How do we do it?

STEP 1 | Sign up leavers

Our first step is to sign up all final year students so they can keep in touch from their last day. Future First provides a secure online platform that helps schools to collect student contact details, keep those contact details up to date, send out communications and search and filter through their alumni to find volunteers for specific needs. To try out the portal please contact info@futurefirst.org.uk and request our guest log in.

STEP 2 | Reach out to former students

We also help schools to reach out to former students who have lost touch using press, social media, employer and university partnerships, and our Back to School Week campaign to encourage alumni to sign up.

STEP 3 | Engage former students

Schools regularly contact former students with updates, newsletters and opportunities to get involved. An engaged network helps alumni feel part of the school community.

Step 4 | Track their journeys

We help track progression routes and destinations via our annual tracking survey and online platform. Schools can capture their former students' journeys by asking them to update their details every year.

Step 5 | Invite former students back to school

The next step is to invite alumni to support current students by bringing them back as inspiring speakers, or asking them to provide mentoring, work shadowing or ' a day in the life' video profiles.

We create a tailored programme for every primary school, secondary school and college

Once we have helped reach out to former students and build networks of supporters, schools and colleges can begin to use this community in a variety of ways to meet a variety of needs. Our goal is to help each school or college to deliver the most effective interventions to address the specific needs of their young people.

Find out how we can help

The Streetly Academy and Future First

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04 September 2019

The Streetly Academy and Future First

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.

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Oxbridge aspirations at Outwood Academy Danum

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18 July 2019

Oxbridge aspirations at Outwood Academy Danum

Outwood Academy Danum in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, hosted an event for Year 9 students, inviting three former students back to share their journeys from Outwood to Oxbridge.

The event was an inspirational session for a small group of Year 9 students who the school believe have the potential to apply to Oxford or Cambridge one day with hard work and dedication. The three former students prepared PowerPoint presentations on their journey from Year 9 to Oxbridge which they shared during the session.

Claire Du Puget, HeppSY Administration Officer at the school, talked us through the itinerary for the session:

Three of our Oxbridge Alumni visited Outwood Academy Danum on Friday 24th May 2019. Each alumnus discussed their Post 16 and Post 18 choices, their pathway to Oxford and Cambridge and how the school supported them with their application process.

They discussed their time in Higher Education and emphasised how obtaining an Oxbridge degree has benefited their career pathway. By sharing their stories, our Oxbridge alumni showed our students just what can be achieved by studying hard and making the right choices.

In their presentations, they emphasised the value of aiming high, being curious and ambitious. They also advised our students to use their spare time productively, keeping up with hobbies because ‘what makes you different makes you’.

The session was extremely inspiring for our students and we are now organising visits to The University of Oxford and The University of Cambridge for July and October.

Kirsty, one of the former students invited back to the school, said, “I wanted to pass on how proud I am to be a Danum girl because of the great start the sixth form gave me, so this was my chance to give something back. Also it was a nice surprise to be reunited with an old friend from the school play, circa 2001!”

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The Importance of Former Students at Wickersley School and Sports College

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10 July 2019

The Importance of Former Students at Wickersley School and Sports College

Rachel Mullins, Careers & Post-16 Transitions Manager at Wickersley School and Sports College, tells us why former students are so important in helping to inspire current students.

Wickersley is the biggest school in Rotherham with over 2000 students, including a Sixth Form, so students range from age 11-18. It’s a very successful school, in the top high achieving schools in South Yorkshire. The school is still a comprehensive with a mixed selection of students with varying abilities.

We wanted to work with alumni because we’ve always had a culture where students really do value Wickersley so there have always been former students coming back to help in school and support our current students.

Personally, I took a group on a trip to Sheffield University and one of the student ambassadors happened to be an ex-Wickersley student. Just seeing the impact she made on the students compared to the other student ambassadors was so great to see and I saw first-hand the difference alumni could make. So with a thriving alumni community we believed we could really inspire our current students.

During our first few months of working with Future First we focused on using the online portal and understanding the key steps needed to build our alumni network, for example, signing up recent leavers at results day or using social media to reach out to former students.

My favourite portal feature so far is the mailbox; I really like being able to follow conversations and see who’s emailing into one central place. So even if it’s not me who’s sent the email I can recognise names and it’s nice to see who’s keeping in touch. The toolkit is also great with great resources that save the school a job such as the business cards and posters.

Our alumni events are great too, we had some HeppSY+ workshops back in May which were fantastic. I couldn’t believe we had that calibre of students coming back, it was great. The content was great and really interactive – even if the students weren’t directly wanting to go into a job that one of the alumni were doing, they still had the chance to ask so many questions on their journey to get there, why they made certain decisions etc. It was really interactive, not too long and easy to access for the students.

The workshop had a really positive impact on the students, they clearly enjoyed it and identified with it. I collected some feedback from the students and here are what two of them said:

“Talking to the former students and asking questions was really interesting and it helped me make informed decisions about my future” – Imogen

“Meeting ex-students was really good – It has helped teach me what kind of skills you need for different jobs” – Jess

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Why Alumni?

Alumni communities have two distinctive strengths: relatability and sustainability. Having grown up in the same area and perhaps having had some of the same teachers, former students are ideal role models as they are instantly relatable. They can offer advice to students from their own context.

Alumni can prove to students that ‘someone like me’ can succeed and prosper.

Schools and colleges have a lasting pool of support available because as new students leave the school each year , they join the growing community of volunteers.

Within every school and college’s alumni community, there is a host of potential career and education role models. The list of possibilities are endless and new innovative ways of working with alumni are developing everyday.

Role Models

Mentors

Supporting the Curriculum

Work Placements

Volunteering

Fundraisers

Role Models

Having grown up in the same place and attended the same school, alumni are immediately relatable to current students. This makes them ideal role models. Alumni can talk about their educational or career experiences and inspire current students to achieve their potential.

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Mentors

Alumni can act as mentors either online or in person, providing advice, support and guidance to students. Mentoring is tailored to the individual with specific goals in mind, offering students a purposeful new relationship to help overcome a range of challenges.

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Supporting the Curriculum

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 and boosting their motivation.

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Work Placements

Work experience is an invaluable opportunity for students to gain an insight into working life. Alumni can provide shadowing opportunities and placements, helping students gain not online more awareness of work, but also the skills they need to succeed when they get there.

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Volunteering

Former students often have specific expertise to offer: from coaching a football team, to running after school clubs or designing a new garden. They can also help the school or college community to flourish by acting as governors, combining knowledge of the local community with experiences and skills they’ve gained since leaving school.

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Fundraisers

Alumni can support their old school or college by raising money or donating to specific causes. This could be books for the library, music equipment or to fund educational visits for current students.

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Our Employer Programme

Young people deserve and benefit greatly from access to employers whilst they’re still at school. Research shows that young people who interact with employers during their time at school are far less likely to become NEET (not in education, employment or training).

Our employer programme complements the core work we undertake to build and develop communities of former students. Alumni volunteers boost students’ confidence, motivation and knowledge of career pathways. We work with a range of employers, for partner staff to talk to young people, including in the workplace itself. This enables students to access the real experience, advice and motivation from a range of available jobs.

We are very grateful for the support of our employer partners. If you are interested in becoming a partner or finding out more information please email info@futurefirst.org.uk.