Future First – harnessing the skills of former primary pupils
During results week, there has never been a better time to address the limitations which children from disadvantaged areas experience when it comes to career aspirations. Here, Future First CEO Matt Lent outlines the work of the education charity…
"This year, primary school pupils are broadening their future jobs horizons and learning about the skills needed to succeed in work. In the first scheme of its kind in the country, Future First is harnessing the experience and skills of former pupils, parents and friends of the schools, bringing them into the classroom to challenge stereotypes and help Year 5 students better understand the variety of career possibilities available.
"Working with primary schools in Knowlsey, near Liverpool, the Future First initiative is helping raise aspirations and embed relatable and inspiring role models at the heart of school life, so that all pupils are able to make more informed decisions about the skills they’ll need and to be engaged in their own learning.
"The primary project builds on Future First’s work in more than a thousand state secondary schools and colleges across the UK, which has shown that former students can transform current students’ motivation to succeed. That’s particularly important for students in disadvantaged areas such as the government’s 12 opportunity areas, where there is low social mobility and careers advice is lacking. Future First is the only organisation to be working in all the opportunity areas, and also works with hundreds of schools across the whole country.
"Actors Jodie Prenger, Craig Parkinson and the DJ Nick Grimshaw have backed Future First’s work, and the chef Tom Aikens returned to his former college in Norwich for a masterclass in cookery. Actor Stephen Fry talks of the unique bond that exists between alumni, students and a school which enables former students to prove to the current generation ‘people like them’ can succeed.
"Harnessing volunteer alumni to inspire current students makes both strategic and economic sense for schools as they grapple with limited budgets. At the same time there is an increased focus on careers advice and support, so exposure to people from the same backgrounds who have gone on to succeed in diverse careers is extremely engaging and powerful. And Future First research shows that state educated alumni are eager to share their experience and talents, with 10 million people willing to return to their former school.
"So while government and business must provide the framework for young people to succeed in careers, everyone can play a part by volunteering to share their experiences, showing every student that they too can succeed in a career of their choice, regardless of their background."