i Editor's letter: Why we are going Back to School

We want people from all trades and professions return to state schools to inspire our next generations

Oliver Duff
Monday 13 October 2014 10:10 BST

At school, what do you wish they’d told you about the world of work? “Find what you’re passionate about,” replies Leicester i reader Chris Hill on our Facebook page. “Then do everything in your power to find a job that involves it.” Fellow reader Ellen Wichmann from Carluke, Lanarkshire, says, “Study abroad, it will be the best thing you ever did,” while Rhiannon Hood answers: “Work hard enough, enjoy playtime – that’s where you’ll find your best ideas.” For Ruby Carr of Hoylake, Wirrall, it is: “Accept help from people. And a smile will go a long way.” Very true. Let us know on i@independent.co.uk what you wish you’d been told.

School’s on my brain because this week we’re returning to i’s Back to School campaign. The aim: to help people from all trades and professions return to state schools to inspire our next generations. We want to emulate the great success of Britain’s private schools in connecting their students with a network of former pupils, whether that’s for a one-off career chat or helping to set up work experience for someone.

The campaign was fairly successful last year – but this time we want to do much more. When i joined up with charity Future First 12 months ago, 50,000 alumni had signed up to help. Today that figure is 90,000. In recent months, more than 1,000 of
them have gone back to school to give career workshops or assemblies. We reckon that they’ve reached 20,000 students – and we hope to reach at least 25,000 students this year.

Some people have excellent reasons for not wanting to return to their old schools. (One or two of my friends would still be chased from the gates if they showed their faces.) Hopefully, even if you don’t want to sign up you’ll find some of our coverage interesting. This week we’ll head around Britain – Swansea, Liverpool, Rotherham and Dagenham are among our early stops – and we’ll take a special look at girls studying science.

Today, Back to School is endorsed by the Schools Minister and the Shadow Education Secretary. I’ll even be heading back into the classroom myself – pity the students.


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