'Old boys and girls' to inspire future pupils
OLD boys and girls' networks have long been the preserve of private schools and universities.
Now, state schools in Bristol are set to start their own alumni networks – groups of former students – after receiving Government backing.
Fairfield High School and Clevedon School are among 500 schools across the country to have successfully applied to take part in a pilot scheme.
The project is aimed at raising the career hopes of state school students by getting former students to return to their old schools to inspire pupils and highlight the range of jobs available.
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The project, being run by charity Future First, has been bankrolled with £250,000 from the Government's Social Action Fund.
Within three weeks of its launch in April, state schools snapped up the 500 free places on the initiative.
Tim Meehan, assistant head teacher at Fairfield High School in Horfield, said he was delighted the school was involved in the scheme.
He said: "For us, it's all about using the talents of our past alumni to inspire our present generation of students. As a comprehensive, we know many of our students have gone on to great things.
"We know through our contacts with those who achieve greatness that they want to come back and talk to students about it. It's about giving students the chance to give something back to the school that gave them the chances in the first place."
Gareth Beynon, assistant head teacher at Clevedon School, said: "We are in a situation where a lot of talent leaves us to go on and do great things. It's important we harness that talent because they are the people who know about the world of work and travelling and all of those things. We're really pleased we're involved in the project."
Alex Shapland-Howes, managing director of Future First, said: "The popularity of the scheme shows how much schools value raising their students' aspirations to have successful careers, particularly against the backdrop of rising youth unemployment.
"Private schools have long recognised the value of introducing students to role models who have gone on to succeed in the working world and this programme will enable state students to benefit from those links too."
Over the next few weeks, the charity will help the schools build alumni communities by collecting the contact details of their school's leavers and keeping them connected to their schools in the years after they leave by email and text message.
The old students can then return to their school or college to talk to current pupils about what they've gone on to do.
Mr Shapland-Howes said: "If students see that someone who lived in their road, maybe had some of the same teachers, has achieved a fulfilling and successful job, it shows them what they can go on to achieve if they work hard.
"We want success to depend on talent, not background. It's vital for the country's future prosperity that students are motivated to work hard to achieve fulfilling careers."