Back to school week - a roaring success

Architects, nuclear engineers, a dentist, even a dog handler are among hundreds of everyday heroes who signed up to a national campaign to inspire state school students to fulfilment in the world of work.

During Back to School Week led by education charity Future First, state schools and colleges across Britain invited back former students – from doctors and lawyers to plumbers and caterers - for workshops and assemblies as statistics show the crucial importance of alumni in motivating state school and college students to success.

And more than a thousand state alumni registered with Future First to stay connected with their old school during the campaign week which ended on Sunday 19th October - double the number who signed up during the campaign last year.

The campaign showcased the ways in which alumni can support their old schools such as with work experience placements, mentoring, in-school support and fundraising.

Those going back to their former state school and college included BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce who returned for an assembly at Haberdashers’Aske’s Hatcham College in New Cross, London, and TV meteorologist Sian Lloyd who went back to Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera in Neath Port Talbot in South Wales,

Sian said, “It was an honour to give something back to the place that gave me so very much. It’s vital that the state sector tunes into the whole ‘old boys/girls network’ thing and takes pride and confidence in doing so.”

Future First Managing Director Alex Shapland-Howes said, “The response to Back to School Week has been amazing. It’s clear that former state schools students across the country want to support the current generation to make that difficult transition from school to work. The skills alumni can offer as relatable role models are invaluable and the campaign has shown how much schools want to harness that experience and talent.”

Future First believes alumni can and should play an invaluable role in working alongside teachers, employers and careers professionals in preparing students for the working world. The charity is the only organisation enabling state schools to utilise the experience of alumni as work experience providers, mentors and e-mentors, career and education role models and as governors, fundraisers and donors.

YouGov/Future First statistics show that:

  • 75 per cent of state students are motivated to work harder after hearing from alumni.
  • Only 3 per cent of state school graduates say that they hear from their old school at least once a year compared with 42 per cent of private school graduates.
  • 75 per cent of state school graduates didn’t meet anyone who is working the sector in which they now work while they were at secondary school.

Only 18 per cent attended a careers event during secondary school featuring someone who worked in the same job or sector in which they now work.

Future First works in 10 per cent of British state secondary schools enabling those schools to utilise the talents of alumni to support current students. More than 90,000 people have registered with Future First to support their old school. Research shows ten million people are willing to do the same.

For more information on Future First and to sign up to support your old school, visit