More than eleven thousand former students across Britain have this year volunteered at their old state school in partnership with Future First, an education charity. By volunteering, these alumni have helped to broaden students’ jobs horizons and boost their aspirations for the future.
Their contribution represents more than 20,000 hours of free volunteering time, an invaluable boost for state schools currently grappling with limited budgets. Future First has helped these state schools to tap into the time, talent, and resource of their former students, bringing them back to school to act as career role models for the next generation. 4,500 different employers have been represented as part of the initiative. And more than 110,000 young people have benefited.
Future First’s work in more than a thousand state schools has been backed by celebrities including actors Julie Walters, Stephen Fry, Craig Parkinson and Jodie Prenger and the DJ Nick Grimshaw. Since 2009, the charity has worked with more than a thousand state schools from Plymouth to Glasgow enabling them to harness the skills of former students by building supportive networks of alumni volunteers around the school.
Former students return to their old school, opening up new worlds of opportunities for current students, to act as career and education role models, mentors, governors, providers of work experience and much more. They help to equip the current generation of students with the soft skills they need to succeed in the world of work and to boost their confidence to achieve academically. Future First research shows alumni can transform students’ motivation by acting as relatable role models grounded in the community, showing current students that ‘people like me’ can succeed.
Matt Lent, CEO of Future First said:
“This is an astonishing number of volunteering hours and shows the willingness of former students to support current students at their old state schools. Students can’t be what they can’t see and it is vital that we equip them with a broad knowledge of available careers and give them the skills they need to achieve.”
“Private schools have always understood the value of linking students past and present and now state schools are realising this too. Alumni are an untapped resource of talent and skills. It’s inspirational and very motivating for students to see that if someone who sat at the same desk as them has gone on to succeed, they can too.”
Charlie Pullen, a PhD student who volunteered at his old school Varndean School in Brighton, said:
“These students were having dedicated time to learn how to be confident. I wish I had had classes that taught me how to look someone in the eye and speak with assurance when I was their age.”