Alumni Programme

Future First has developed a robust process for helping schools develop sustainable alumni communities- engaging both this year’s leavers and former students 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, employers and alumni. Future First has a team of dedicated Alumni Officers who work with schools and colleges to help them build and manage their community of former students. Alumni Officers are experts in their field and offer practical support and advice for school staff.

We take an enabling approach. We work with schools and colleges to embed alumni engagement across the fabric of the school and lives of the 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 school and college

Once we have helped reach out to former students and build networks, schools and colleges can begin to use their former students 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 students.

Find out how we can help

Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Waterlooville, tells its story

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14 March 2018

Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Waterlooville, tells its story

Angela McQuiston, Head of Careers:

“Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College is an Academy school in Waterlooville, near Portsmouth. We serve a wide catchment area with students travelling from Portsmouth, Fareham and even Hayling Island. With this comes a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

We have been building our alumni network for the past three years and inviting former students back for occasions like ‘professional days’. Some alumni said freeing up a whole day was difficult for them, which is why we started hosting short talks during our 20 minute tutor/assembly time instead. We cast the net quite wide – simply suggesting a day of the week and letting former students choose the day that works best for them.

Future First helps us with sending out initial invites through the portal then I log in and confirm arrangements with alumni. Sometimes they are concerned about what they’re going to say to the students. I suggest keeping it casual and talking through their career pathway, what a day in their job looks like and then answering students’ questions. Former students are often keen to come back and speak to students again which is great!

Students told us they would like to find out more about two of our former students’ jobs as engineers so they are returning next term to lead a more intensive session with physics and maths students.

Another former student was even able to offer the students work experience placements and has offered to host a trip to see them in London, showing the students around the London Stock Exchange!

A really inspiring encounter happened recently when a former student speaker came to talk about the importance of work experience, having struggled to move forwards in her career without it. A student had an extensive chat with her afterwards and has subsequently managed to secure a work experience placement as a result. This was particularly significant for this student as she’s planning to head straight into training or employment rather than going down the university route. Meeting a former student who can inform her about how to get ahead in the world of work has been life changing.

We have had a really positive response from the students who have attended the talks. Seeing their enthusiasm for particular careers develop, as well as gaining experience and further insight into different career pathways is really great. The talks have certainly shown the students the variety of careers that are out there and got them thinking about their own pathways.”

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Tendring Technology College, Essex, tells its story:

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12 February 2018

Tendring Technology College, Essex, tells its story:

"We are proud of our students’ achievements and there is no better way to motivate and inspire them than by sharing the successes and experiences of alumni. Future First provided a great tool to enable us to do this."

- Jake Tharp, Information, Advice and Guidance Leader

“Tendring Technology College is an 11-18 academy in North-East Essex with 1844 students altogether and 300 in the Sixth Form.

As a College we are proud of our students’ achievements and there is no better way to motivate and inspire them than by sharing the successes and experiences of alumni. Future First provided a great tool to enable us to do this.

Future First’s Core package enabled us to establish a careers programme that works for all our students. It allowed us to develop and refine our provision to best fit their needs.

Future First’s expertise helped our staff feel empowered to take ownership of our alumni programme and go forward with the DIY+ package.

We promote the use of alumni for a wide range of events here at TTC, and it is fair to say that the students gain a lot from speaking to ex-students. As a College we believe in promoting the successes of our ex-students to our current students to help motivate them towards their goals.  Our busiest event, the ‘Year 10 Mock Interview Day’, allows us to invite in many alumni from a wide range of sectors to talk about their career path since leaving TTC. The students thoroughly enjoy the experience and also get to develop their own ‘soft skills’.

We’re proud to have around 500 alumni signed up to our network. We organise key communications throughout the academic year to keep former students up to date on what’s going on at TTC and advertise events to support students. We now have a well-established calendar with key events, and The Digital Toolkit makes it so much quicker and easier for us to run them.”

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Colleen tells her story

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26 January 2018

Colleen tells her story

“I used to think it was me against the world. Now I can see that other people have had similar experiences at school but have still done something cool in the future. It’s shown me that I’ll be able to get somewhere too.”

Colleen, Year 10 student, Neale-Wade Academy

Future First is pioneering a three-year project that will see alumni support a group of students from Year 9 through to Year 11. Participating students have been specially chosen because their schools believe that they will benefit the most from this opportunity. Former students will work with the group in a series of bespoke Future First workshops to raise their aspirations and help them overcome barriers to achieving their potential.

The Employability Skills Project, funded by Rothschild & Co through their UK Charitable Giving Programme, is taking place at schools in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall and Newcastle. The project will see these students benefit from the support of former students with similar experiences to them, throughout a crucial stage in their education.

Colleen, a Year 10 student from Neale-Wade Academy talks about how the project has helped to change her mind about what she can go on achieve.

In Year 9 we got to go to three workshops where we worked with alumni to think about the importance of school for our futures and to hear about what they were like at school.

Some of them weren’t exactly good, but also weren’t really naughty either, and that was exactly like me! They showed me that, if I wanted, I could do something good in the future.

Now I’m working harder and being more good. Before these workshops, if a teacher used to shout at me I’d shout back. I used to think it was me against the world. Now I can see that other people have had similar experiences at school but have still done something cool in the future. It’s shown me that I’ll be able to get somewhere too if I put my head down.

When I think about my future now it’s different, I’ve got a lot more choice about what I’m going to do when I’m older, much more than I first thought. The alumni showed me that. They exposed me to loads more interesting jobs. I also got to find out about people who are successful but also had a bit of a tough time at school. I really liked hearing about the alumni’s experiences and getting some advice on how my life could work out. That’s what’s helped me!

I’m looking forward to the workshops in the summer and getting to talk to even more alumni and learn even more about careers. It’s helping me feel more prepared for the world of work, especially as I’ll be starting to look at what I want to do after my GCSEs.

After our workshops finished we got to go into Rothschild and meet their employees. I really liked this because some of them said they’d been difficult at school too and it showed me that if I work hard enough I could get to where they are now. Also, they weren’t just from London they came from all sorts of schools so it showed me that even if you’re from Neale-Wade Academy in March, you could still get somewhere like that. Anyone could do it!

I think that all students, not just those at Neale-Wade should get the opportunity to do something like this. It’s given me a different perspective and shown me that I can be successful in my future if I try.

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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.