Future First scheme aims to get state school alumni back into classrooms

The education charity has added its 100,000th recruit to a growing army of people acting as role models to the future generation

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The Independent Online

Heartening to see the success of the scheme launched by education charity Future First, and supported by our sister paper, i, to get state school alumni back into their classrooms.

Last week the charity added its 100,000th recruit to a growing army of people acting as role models to the future generation, including bankers, lawyers, plumbers and choreographers. The 100,000th was Sally Duguid, head of a company that organises hospitality and tourism events, who is giving pupils at Warden Park Academy in Cuckfield, West Sussex, the benefit of her wisdom.

The school has signed up more than 300 one-time students to help out, such as a former dyslexic pupil "who is now a successful local architect, speaking to our pupils with educational needs about overcoming adversity", according to its head.

Christine Gilbert, the former chief inspector of schools who now leads Future First, says: "If students see that someone who comes from the same background, and perhaps had the same teachers, has gone on to achieve a fulfilling job, they are more likely to believe that they can too. Private schools have harnessed the talent of alumni for generations and now state schools have that same valuable opportunity."

Serkan Hussein, a medical student and former pupil at Kingsmead School in Enfield, north London, is another volunteer. "It's great to know you've had a positive impact on shaping someone's future," he says.

Research by YouGov for Future First shows that private school pupils are 10 times more likely than state school pupils to view people like themselves as successful – 33 per cent as opposed to just three per cent. In addition, nearly 39 per cent of state school pupils do not know anyone in a job they would like to do.

Nice to know that the gap is being bridged by a new breed of volunteers and that the power of the "old school tie" is no longer confined to the private sector.

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