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Cover story


ALUMNI ACTION


Your former pupils are an untapped resource of goodwill and expertise, so why not ask them to ‘give back’ and support your school, says Jane Hughes


aving worked in state schools for nearly a decade, it’s always surprised me that


more isn’t done to reach


out to alumni. School is an all- consuming and formative experience – a time that many people look back on with nostalgia and gratitude. Yet schools can operate in quite a self-contained way. And when pupils move on, years of shared experience quickly dissipates, with opportunities to build bridges often missed. It doesn’t have to be that way. Both


primary and secondary schools have an enormous amount to gain by drawing on the successes of former students. Alumni can support you in nurturing the aspirations and abilities of current pupils. They can inspire by talking about their personal experiences of life and work. They can act as vital connections to the wider world and create opportunities for work experience – taking the pressure off school careers provision. They can donate to specifi c projects,


or provide connections to companies who can donate or match-fund. And


who knows? Maybe there’s a former student out there who can help with alumni engagement. After all, many ‘old girls’ and ‘old boys’ associations have run their own reunions for years. According to the charity Future


First, which helps state schools build alumni networks, 30% of former pupils surveyed would make a donation to their school if asked. Yet most had not been asked, suggesting state schools could be missing out on thousands of pounds every year. Future First works with around 400


schools, and has registered more than 266,000 former pupils who want to support their schools as mentors, fundraisers, donors or governors. Why? Often because making a difference makes them feel good. I speak from experience, having


returned to my old school as a journalist to work on cross-curricular magazine and diversity projects (bringing in contacts from the BBC, as well as local authors, scientists and entrepreneurs). As a freelancer I was paid (through Creative Partnerships), but I enjoyed the experience so much that I became an English teacher!


FundEd SPRING 2021 15


IN


IMAGES: MICHAEL BURRELL; EMARTO; DENYS; ALEK_KOLTUKOV; MONUTTANIT; MEDEJAJA; EVGENIY CHERNOBAEV/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM


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