Former students of state secondary schools in the South West are being urged to use their experience and skills of higher education to boost current students’ chances of going to university.
The programme in twenty-five secondary schools and three colleges is run by the national education charity Future First and funded by Next Steps South West, part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme which aims to widen participation in higher education, increasing the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education by 2020.
Future First will help participating schools to engage their alumni communities, bringing back former students with experience of higher education as positive role models so the current generation is more motivated, confident and equipped to go to university.
Schools and colleges taking part are Bodmin College, Brannel School, Cullompton Community College, Lipson Co-operative Academy, Richard Lander School, Robert Blake Science College, Sir John Hunt Community Sports College, Hele's School, Marine Academy Plymouth, St Ives School - A Technology College, St James School, The Park Community School, Tor Bridge High, Isca Academy, Paignton Community and Sports Academy, City College Plymouth, Coombe Dean School, Humphry Davy School, Richard Huish College, South Devon College, Great Torrington School, Notre Dame RC School, Torpoint Community College, Penrice Academy, Stoke Damerel Community College, St Cuthbert Mayne School, Tiverton High School and West Exe School.
The charity is urging former students of the participating schools and college to sign up online at https://networks.futurefirst.org.uk/register to support the programme, which could change young people’s lives.
Under the scheme, Future First will work with careers staff and teachers in each school to run workshops supported by alumni volunteers with the aim of inspiring current students about the different courses available to them and enabling them to make a more informed decision about choosing the right university for them.
Charlotte True, Next Steps South West Manager said, ‘We believe in the power of positive role models and real stories, and so are delighted to support Future First’s alumni network. Challenging the belief systems and behaviours of disadvantaged young people can start with one conversation. Through hearing an authentic account of someone else’s experience in higher education, we will empower young students to envision their own future at university or college. '
Matt Lent, Chief Executive Officer of Future First, said, ‘It is vital to enable more young people in the South West to benefit from the many opportunities that higher education can bring. Students cannot be what they cannot see. Future First helps open their eyes to opportunities beyond their own world and show them the range of jobs available. Alumni help schools do this by acting as relatable positive role models. If a student sees someone who has the same background has gone on to achieve success, they are far more likely to think they can too.’