The Independent | Back to school

Back to school 2014

Building a state school alumni network

What do you wish you had known about working life whilst you were at school? With many young people struggling to find employment and a bewildering variety of jobs out there, career advice is more important than ever.

But while many private school pupils have the advantage of an ‘old boys club’, pupils in state schools don’t necessarily reap those benefits. It’s not that old students don’t want to give back, it’s just that traditionally state schools haven’t been so good at asking if their former pupils want to help.

Charity Future First, the National Union of Students and the i newspaper want to change that. We want to encourage people to offer their time to their old schools and help build school and and college alumni communities. From joiners to police officers and barristers, former pupils from all trades can offer advice and even work experience placements. . It’s never been more important to go back to school.

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My trip back to school was as enlightening for me as I hope it was for everyone else

If the students I met are in charge in 20 years I think we’ll be alright

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Jonathan Mills outlines the three key points

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80 universities and 400 further education colleges are taking part

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Yvette Cooper goes back to school

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'Try to work on something that has a purpose,' says the US-born executive

Ledley King heads back to his school in Mile End

‘I was just the same as they are, with the same dreams’

Old School Reports from Winston Churchill and Stephen Fry

'He is a constant trouble to everybody and is always in some scrape or other'

Back to School: 8 careers advice tips to avoid

'Find out what it is in life that you don't do well, and then don't do that thing'

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Future First has convinced thousands to go back to school

But what led the people behind this charity to begin their campaign?

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'Don't miss the back page off your English Literature exam and get an E'

David Laws tells students to 'think big'

The Schools Minister gave his support to the campaign at Westfield Academy

Back to School: What is the Campaign?

Find out more about the mission and our charity partner

Back to School: Former professional footballer Ledley King

'Listen, learn and soak up as much knowledge as you can to continue to improve yourself.'

Back to School: Trailblazing young chef Florence Knight

'Pick up a thread of interest and pursue it doggedly until you find your niche'

Ex-pupils inspire today's pupils

Kingsmead Academy is a shining example of how state schools can enourage alumni to return

Owen Jones: I didn't want to be a writer

'I wanted to be an astronaut. Why the laughs?'

Alastair Campbell: Aim high, ignore the cynics

'Getting drunk wasn’t as funny as it seems at the time.'

Chris Blackhurst: Nobody visited my school

'It was only when I rubbed shoulders with private school children that I realised what we had missed.'

Oly Duff: My trip back to college

'How I went from getting a U in English to studying at one of Britain's oldest colleges.'

SB.TV founder Jamal Edwards

'The best thing about my job is that every morning when I wake up, I realise I’m in charge of my fate.'

Case Study: Serkan Hussein

'It was helpful to meet someone who motivated me to go out and achieve.'

A campaign by i and the charity Future First.

The aim:
Help people from all trades and professions to return to state schools to give inspirational talks or practical career advice for students. To inspire and inform young people about their futures.

How can I help?

1. Sign up to the Back to School network, which Future First uses to link state schools with their former pupils.

2. Or, if you prefer, you can contact your old school, or a school near you, directly.

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