Ex-students called on to inspire next generation

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.

Fourteen Sussex secondary schools are calling on former students to help inspire the current intake to go on to higher education.

The schools are taking part in a programme run by the national education charity Future First, which aims to increase the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going on to higher education by 2020.

Funded by the Sussex Learning Network, part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme, the project helps former students with experience of higher education return to school to act as positive role models for the next generation.

The Sussex schools and colleges taking part are: Holy Trinity School, Crawley; Bexhill Academy, The Littlehampton Academy, Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Dorothy Stringer School, Hailsham Community College, St Wilfrid’s School, Crawley' Hove Park School, Ifield Community College, St Catherine’s College, Eastbourne; The Regis School, The Eastbourne Academy, Thomas Bennett Community College, and Varndean School.

Under the scheme, Future First works with careers staff and teachers to run workshops supported by alumni volunteers.

The aim is to inform current students about the different courses available to them while enabling them to make informed decisions about choosing the right university for them.

Varndean School, in Brighton, 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, said: "We had a whale of a time, and the students really enjoyed it."

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."

Christine Gilbert, chairman of Future First and a former Ofsted chief inspector, said: "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."

Any former students wishing to take part, can log on to networks.futurefirst.org.uk/register .