London and essex schools to put students’ future first

THOUANDS of state school students have the chance to benefit from funding to inspire them to achieve their dream job.

The international education charity Future First is calling on 80 secondary schools and colleges in the area – including Uttlesford’s four state schools – to sign up to its alumni programme at half price for one year. The programme harnesses the time, talent and support former students can offer current students.

The opportunity is being funded by an additional grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation which backs projects that raised the aspirations of 11 to 25-year-olds. Schools and colleges which belong to the Jack Petchey Achievement Award scheme are eligible.

For generations, many private schools and universities have utilised the professional expertise former students can share. Now, for the first time, state schools can do the same.

The charity will help schools to keep this year’s leavers connected and also reconnect with former students in established careers.

Alumni can offer their support to current students in a number of ways – as career and education role models, mentors or e-mentors, work experience providers, governors, fundraisers and donors.

Future First already sets up and runs alumni networks in more than 500 schools and colleges nationwide. More than 34,500 former students across Britain have signed up to stay connected.

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Future First’s research shows that nearly 70 per cent of 16 to 19-year-olds think it will be hard to get a good job when they leave school. Yet 10 million adults are willing to return to their old school or college.

“More than 39 per cent of state school or college students don’t know anyone in a job they’d like to do,” said Alex Shapland-Howes, managing director of Future First.

“It’s really important for all students to be motivated to succeed in the working world and hearing first hand from relatable people in interesting jobs can make a huge difference.”

Gemma Dunbar, head of grants at the Jack Petchey Foundation, said: “Over the last year the Jack Petchey Foundation has done significant research into how best to support young people in their transition from education to employment. Building a supportive alumni network came out as one of the most helpful methods – according to the young people themselves.

“For this reason, the Jack Petchey Foundation is delighted to work with Future First in supporting schools investing in their alumni and we look forward to seeing the long term benefits of this approach in due course.”

Teachers interested in signing up their school or college to Future First’s alumni programme can visit and click on the ‘schools and colleges staff’ link to register their interest.

People wishing to support their former school should visit and click on the ‘former students’ link.