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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'Never fear what other people think of you,' Sian Lloyd tells pupils

The meteorologist was visiting her old school in Neath

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

‘My message to you is don’t close off your options’

After leaving 10 years ago, Stacey Gregory has a message to the children at her old school

Fiona Bruce inspires pupils at her old school

The BBC presenter spoke candidly to current students about her time at Hatcham College

Robert Peston: Want to help young people’s prospects? Then you can start by going back to school

Together we can help give our schools the sense of permanent identity they need to thrive

Treasury boss looks back on time when talent mattered more than connections

During a Back to School event in Westminster, Lord Deighton said he feared that a 'golden age' of social mobility was over

As a society, we’re all trying too hard

It's the kids who should be exerting themselves the most, and not everyone around them

Ministers back campaign to help state students

Launching today, the i's Back To School campaign helps professionals inspire state school students

Graduates can find the perfect fit for a ‘portfolio’ career

A full-time job is not key for many in Generation Y

Careers tip: Making sure you’re valued at work

Jonathan Mills outlines the three key points

Changing career doesn’t have to mean mid-life drama

Going back to school has become a popular way to kickstart a career change

Mind the skills gap: Careers education ‘failing young people’

The vocational route can be more rewarding

Careers tip: Creating the best CV

Victoria Matthews gives some pointers for creating your CV

How Back to School is helping kids across the country

And where we go from here

Experience or exploitation? The perils of working without pay

There are benefits to the practice, recent graduates tell Katie Grant

Careers tip: Think before using social media

Be in control of your social media image

Ofsted wants schools to lift their game on careers advice

Ofsted is looking for new ways to judge schools' careers education

Careers tip: Be bold

Students should put themselves out there

A week to make students ask questions about their careers

80 universities and 400 further education colleges are taking part

Careers tip: Talk about work in all subjects at school

All teachers can be involved in careers education

Yvette Cooper goes back to school

The Labour Shadow Secretary visits Airdale Academy in Castleford

Back to School: A view from the road

I hope more and more i readers will sign up to become be part of the movement

Experiment with careers, Dame Marjorie Scardino tells school girls

'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'

Back to school: A visit to Hampstead School

Poet and novelist Tobias Hill and rapper Doc Brown visit their old school

Back to School: A visit to Aston Manor in Birmingham

'I understand what life is about now'

A letter to my 16-year-old self

NUS president Toni Pearce, age 23, writes to her teenage self

Future First has convinced thousands to go back to school

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

Best of the Social Media response

'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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