Future First


 Former state students in Norwich are to help transform current students’ opportunities and give them a better start in life by going back to their old schools in an initiative to build an alumni network in schools and college in the city.

The programme, run by the education charity Future First and funded by the government’s Careers and Enterprise Company, has been backed by the actor Stephen Fry who went to Norwich City College.

Norwich has been identified by the government as one of the areas in the country needing additional support to ensure all local children get a brilliant education and good start in life.Future First research shows alumni are crucial in inspiring current state students to greater motivation, confidence and success in the world of work. They act as positive role models for current students and provide personal connections for them to the world of work. Alumni can also support their old school by volunteering for example as governors or even helping to raise school funds.

The initiative will encourage more schools to 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. Private schools and universities have long seen the value of keeping alumni in close contact after they have left.

Norwich schools taking part in the programme are City Academy Norwich, City of Norwich School, Notre Dame High School and The Open Academy as well as Norwich City College of Further and Higher Education where Stephen Fry studied A levels in 1976/77.

Stephen said, “As a proud alumnus myself of Norwich City College, I am so happy to support the Future First initiative.  People come from all over the region to take advantage of what the college has to offer in terms of its unique breadth and depth of courses, and it is only right that the bond that forms between students and the institution itself should be strengthened and alumni get the chance to take advantage of the good fortune and achievements of fellow students.”

Two city schools have already held successful World at Work Days when students have the opportunity to talk to alumni working in a variety of jobs about their career paths and life after school.

Former students returning to the Open Academy included Louis Kaszczak, European Partnerships Director at United Health Group – Global Markets, Darren Douglass, Practitioner Planner for EDF Energy Engineering Investment Delivery Team, Michaela Rudling, Head of Performing Arts at Open Youth Trust, Maddi Culham a student at Norwich City College, teaching assistant Donna Warman and South Bank University student Farrukh Chughtai. 

Alumni returning to City of Norwich School included Rob Halden-Pratt, ITV Content Editor and town planner Hannah Smith.

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

Future First has worked with more than a thousand schools and colleges up and down the country to set up alumni networks. These harness the wealth of talent and experience of former students from a range of jobs, from law and banking to plumbing and catering. More than 220,000 former students nationwide are registered to support current students at their old school.


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