A leading actress has backed a campaign to inspire young people to achieve more by building alumni networks in every state school in the UK.
BAFTA award-winning actress Julie Walters is supporting a campaign by national education charity Future First to help raise aspirations among young people by building connections with former students.
This week celebrates Back to School Week, an event that has seen schools across Birmingham welcome back former pupils to work closely with existing students.
Future First research reveals that alumni play a crucial role in inspiring state students to achieve greater career confidence and success in the world of work by acting as positive role models, providing connections to the world of work, volunteering as mentors or governors, or even helping to raise funds.
Back to School week has seen alumni returning to their schools to hold special sessions with current students to share their stories and offer advice.
The scheme was attracted the support of celebrated actress Julie Walters, who grew up in the Birmingham area herself.
She said: “Taking alumni back to support current state school students, whatever field they want to enter, is a fantastic idea. The world of work is a difficult place and the more support teenagers have in navigating the move from school to work and broadening their jobs horizons, the better. I wish there had been something like Future First when I was at school. I’d urge everyone to sign up to support their former state school."
The charity began work around six years ago to try and create a more level playing field for younger people.
According to Future First, three quarters of judges, three quarters of top military officers, nearly two thirds of top doctors and more than half of leading print journalists were privately educated.
Never have Britain's elite jobs been more dominated by privately educated students despite only seven per cent of pupils attending independent schools.
Future First aims to show young people that there are no limits to what they can achieve by connecting them to successful people who were in their position just a few years before.
Christine Gilbert, executive chair of Future First, is delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to young people.
She said: “Every state school student should have the opportunity to succeed in life after school, regardless of their background. If students see ‘people like me’ have succeeded, they are more likely to believe they can too. They work harder and have higher expectations of success. We want more schools to see the benefits of using their alumni as a powerful resource.”