State ‘old school tie’ network inspires current generation of students

A caterer, an actress and an accountant were among professionals going back to their old school to inspire the current generation to academic success and career confidence under a scheme setting up ‘old school tie’ networks in state schools and colleges.

Sixteen alumni returned to Parliament Hill School, Highgate Road, London, part of the LaSWAP sixth form consortium, under the initiative to encourage state student social mobility by enabling schools to harness the talent and expertise of former students.

The initiative is run by the national education charity Future First which works in more than 400 state schools and colleges across Britain linking schools with their former students who act as career and education role models, mentors, work experience providers, governors, fundraisers and donors.

The LaSWAP alumni took part in a workshop carousel with 60 lower sixth form students (Year 12s) helping them think about the skills they need for life after school and how to draft personal statements and post 16 applications.

Three alumni, a legal secretary, a sales optimisation manager at a travel company and a management consultancy analyst, returned under the City of London Corporation funded “Inspiring City Role Models” scheme intended to create a talent pipeline into City jobs in which workers from the Square Mile return to their old state school in City fringe boroughs.

Other alumni (former students of LaSWAP schools but not working in the City) include an accountant, a company director, a press officer, a lecturer, a marketing manager at the toy store Hamleys, a caterer and businesswoman, an actress and a philosophy consultant.

Teacher Nicky King said, “We’re always looking for links with industry and this is such a great way of building confidence.”

Alumna and actress Luisa Guerreiro said, “When I was a student I would have really appreciated having a point of contact to ask the questions that I asked myself then. As an alumna, I hope to inspire and assist all students who may have questions and perhaps act as a point of call to those who aspire to a life in performance.”

Alex Shapland-Howes, Managing Director of Future First, said, “More than 39 per cent of state school students don’t know anyone in a job they’d like to do. If they see that someone who went to the same school and grew up in the same community, has achieved a fulfilling and satisfying job, it helps them to see that it’s possible for them too.

“It’s really important for all students to be motivated to succeed in the working world and hearing first hand  from relatable people in interesting jobs can make a huge difference.”

Mark Boleat, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation which funds the “Inspiring City Role Models” scheme, added, “This programme is essential in providing young people with positive role models that they can identify with. For many young people in boroughs like Camden, City jobs seem a world away. Connecting sixth formers with people that are succeeding in the Square Mile will help raise their aspiration and highlight the opportunities for high skilled and rewarding careers.”

The LaSWAP sixth form consortium consists of La Sainte Union School, William Ellis School, Acland Burghley School and Parliament Hill School.

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