Famous former pupils of Blackpool schools are to help transform current students’ opportunities and give them a better start in life by going back to the classroom. The initiative to build alumni networks in schools and a college in the town, run by the education charity Future First and funded by the Government’s Careers and Enterprise Company, has been backed by the actors Jodie Prenger and Craig Parkinson who both grew up and studied in the town.

Jodie won BBC talent contest I’d Do Anything in 2008 before landing roles in the West End and is set to star on stage in  Street of Dreams, the Coronation Street musical. She said, “I was incredibly lucky and managed to achieve my dream job, but not everyone has that opportunity. Future First can help give young people in Blackpool that same chance, whatever their background. The charity is doing really important work bringing opportunities to young people in Blackpool and across the country.”

Craig has starred in TV series Misfits, Whitechapel and Line Of Duty as well as films including Brighton Rock and Control. He said, “It's so important to broaden young people's jobs horizons and by taking former students back to their old schools. Future First is helping to do just that. Talking to someone who had a similar school experience and has gone on to achieve in their job makes students feel they can succeed too. I’d urge everyone to sign up through Future First to support their former state school."

Jodie Prenger alumni

Future First is urging more alumni of the participating schools and college to sign up online at Futurefirst.org.uk to support the programme, which could change young people’s lives.

It is hoped more schools and colleges will see alumni as a valuable resource in broadening the jobs horizons of the current generation and preparing them to navigate the difficult transition from school to work. 

More alumni are wanted to work across schools in Blackpool and the UK

Blackpool schools taking part in the programme are Blackpool Aspire Academy, Highfield Leadership Academy, Montgomery High School, St Georges School and Unity Academy Blackpool as well as Blackpool and Fylde College where both Jodie Prenger and Craig Parkinson studied.

Blackpool Aspire Academy has already held a successful World at Work Day when students talked to and alumnus about their career path and life after school. The returning former student was Jordan Robbins, who is doing an apprenticeship at Blackpool Sixth Form College.

Craig Parkinson alumni

Teacher Laura Hanson said, “It was a great day! Year 7 got so much from it and were really engaged with all the activities. They came away full of ideas and feeling very inspired!”

Christine Gilbert, Chair of Future First said, “Every state student should have the opportunity to succeed in life after school, regardless of their background. Alumni help give them a better start in life.”

Future First works with more than 220,000 former students nationwide, who are registered to support current students at their old school.

Craig Parkinson and Jodie Prenger support alumni programme

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