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

Opportunities and Life After School Options at Great Torrington

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13 September 2019

Opportunities and Life After School Options at Great Torrington

Sandra Peters, Personalised Learning Manager at Great Torrington School, explains how alumni can help current students figure out life after school.

Great Torrington School is a predominantly rural school for students aged 11-16. Many pupils bus in from local villages, with a number coming from the small town of Torrington and the larger nearby town of Bideford too. We have lower than average FSM percentages and higher than national average SEN with statement or EHC plan students.

We were lucky enough to receive the Future First support free of charge as part of our partnership with Next Steps SW and started working with Future First in 2018.

Since starting our membership, we have invited alumni in for a number of events including PSHE sessions, careers sessions and for Duke of Edinburgh presentations.

Back in January we had six alumni in to speak to Year 11 during their PSHE lessons about their career journey, the qualifications they gained and their life experiences. Year 11 can be so focused on exam preparation and revision that students can lose sight of the bigger picture, amazing opportunities and life after school options and experiences, so it was great to hear from our alumni about what they’ve gone on to do.

The alumni visitors talked about their experience at GTS and where they went on to study, qualifications they gained and the careers these lead onto. The volunteers were wonderful, all doing different things they could talk about with our students. We had business people, FE/HR students and an Olympic coach!

The Year 11 students were able to ask questions and it was great to see them interacting with the visitors. Their life stories of travel, education, career change and achieving their goals was inspiring and the students gave positive feedback at the end of the session.

Sign your school up to Future First’s alumni network here.

 

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The Benefits of Alumni at Soham Village College

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11 September 2019

The Benefits of Alumni at Soham Village College

Nick Oakhill, Careers Manager at Soham Village College, explains the benefits of alumni in school. 

Using alumni has definitely helped with some of the issues that our school faces. Due to our rural location, a lot of our students cannot see the opportunities that are out there. This is not just limited to post 16 options but also thinking about future employment. In comparison to students in cities, such as Cambridge, Soham students have limited access and awareness about career pathways and the labour market. We are conscious as a school that there are issues of social mobility in the area and we want to make students realise that there is a bigger world out there. Alumni are one part of our career programme that raise awareness and aspirations. Our former students can give confidence to our young people to look past Soham and to the wider world.

Our school is currently funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company to use Future First services. When I sat down with SLT to look through the options and opportunities the idea of an alumni network is something that immediately appealed to us. We liked the idea that the programme would not just be short term but something, that once we had in place, could benefit the school in years to come. We had never had an official alumni network so this seemed like a great opportunity.

From my own experience, as part of an alumni community for my old school, I could see the benefits of keeping in touch with former students. It could be used as a quick way of engaging with local employers and potential speakers. Also, keeping leavers part of the Soham community. The idea of an alumni network absolutely stuck out for us.

This year it was my idea to invite alumni back during National Careers Week as speakers in assemblies. When presented with the idea of an alumni programme I thought this could be a good focus. I approached our SLT and the idea was positively received. I was hoping to have alumni speak who represented a good selection of industries and roles but I also did not want to be too selective. I ideally wanted to break stereotypes and have female speakers from male dominated industries.

Through contacting the alumni network I managed to secure four speakers for the week. It was fantastic to have Fern speak on the Thursday, as an engineer working within the construction industry. It was really interesting to hear Fern speak about her setbacks and failures, particularly at university, but also how she showed resilience and overcome her issues to achieve her current successes. All the speakers were fantastic but it was especially interesting to hear from Caroline who left Soham in the 1970’s and has had a varied career in the NHS.

Before the week began I was quite anxious because although I had spoken to all the former students beforehand about expectations and outcomes; you never really know if it is going to work until they start speaking. The week of talks was a complete success! All of the speakers spoke about how they had been sitting in the exact same position as our students which really hit the mark.

I think one of the main advantages of inviting alumni to return as speakers is that they are not just a stranger returning from a particular profession but that they are a former student discussing life after Soham. They are relatable to our students which has a greater impact as the students can see themselves in the alumni. The idea that our students can sit in an assembly and realistically think “that could be me one day” is fantastic. The fact that our students can see someone overcoming a barrier that they might be experiencing, such as mental health, and that they have gone on to achieve success is great. In all the activities I organise, if I can have even one young person coming away with a boost and idea or raising their aspirations then that is a winning situation.

Our network has grown to 135 former students and I am so appreciative to them signing up. As a school we understand that people may not be available to return all the time but we are flexible for our alumni. I also send out newsletters so that our network can keep updated on school life. I would say, if you want to get involved in your old school, the opportunity is there.

Sign your school up to Future First’s alumni network here.

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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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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.