Bringing back former students as positive role models

Hove Park School former student Kelly Romero (fourth from left) with sixth formers
Hove Park School former student Kelly Romero (fourth from left) with sixth formers

Alumni of Sussex state schools are being urged inspire and mentor students to boost their chances of getting into university.

Four Brighton and Hove schools have signed up to the scheme, which aims to increase the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going on to higher education.

The programme is run by the national education charity Future First – which is helping to encourage schools to bring backs its former students as positive role models – and funded by the Sussex Learning Network.

Brighton and Hove schools taking part include Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Dorothy Stringer School, Hove Park School and Varndean School.

Varndean hosted a student workshop with five alumni volunteers including a lawyer and a prison worker Charlie Pullen, now completing a PhD in English Literature at Queen Mary University in London, who said: “‘We had a whale of a time, and the students really enjoyed it.”

Hove Park School students have also benefited from alumni advice and guidance, with teachers inviting former students into form times to give advice on life after leaving school including Kelly Romeo (pictured), now executive PA for an accountancy firm.

Fay Lofty, schools liaison programme manager at Sussex Learning Network, said: “We are delighted to have enabled our priority schools to access Future First.

"Bringing alumni back to their schools to contribute to an ethos of success, progression and attainment fully supports Sussex Learning Network’s aims for young people to be inspired and enthused to fulfil their potential.

"Feedback from our priority schools has been brilliant about the way Future First not only helps locate alumni but also about the creative, imaginative and effective ways they use them in schools.”

Future First is working 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.

Christine Gilbert, chair of Future First and a former Ofsted chief inspector, said, “We are delighted to be supporting Sussex Learning Network’s important work in encouraging more young people in the area to benefit from the many opportunities higher education can bring.

"Future First helps schools and colleges build and use a network of their former students in active support of the current generation. Alumni are unique because of their connection with current students.

"The young people in these schools will truly benefit from working with former students, who will show them what’s possible from a future in higher education and open their eyes to a world beyond their own.”

Future First, along with the Sussex Learning Network programme, is offered in eligible schools across East and West Sussex.

For more information, visit: networks.futurefirst.org.uk/register

For more education stories from the Brighton & Hove INdependent, click here.