Former students of South Yorkshire secondary schools are to use their career experience and skills to boost current pupils’ chances of going to university.
The project in 35 state schools and colleges across the region will link motivational former students and current pupils with the aim of increasing the number of young people from underrepresented backgrounds in higher education by 2020.
The scheme is run by the national education charity Future First, which has helped more than a thousand state schools and colleges to set up ‘old school tie’ networks of alumni.
They go back into schools and give young people the confidence and resilience to achieve academically and broaden their horizons of career and further education options.
It forms part of the Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire Plus programme, HeppSY+, one of the national outreach programmes which works in areas like South Yorkshire, where take up of higher education is low.
Over the next academic year, the programme will benefit 3,500 state students in years 9 to sixth form in Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham state schools and colleges.
Future First will work with careers staff and teachers in each school or college to build a sustainable alumni network registering hundreds of university students and recent graduates as volunteers and engaging them to inspire thousands of today’s students immediately.
The charity will run workshops in each school and college using alumni as positive role models who can inspire students about different courses available and enable them to make a more informed decision about choosing the right university for them.
The charity aims to sign up 100 alumni for each participating school.
Chief executive officer of Future First, Matt Lent, said: ‘Young people can’t be what they can’t see.
“Too many students don’t have access to role models who can show them what opportunities further education can bring.
“Alumni are valuable role models because they are grounded in the community and relatable to current students.
“They therefore show young people in school what's possible from a future in higher education and open their eyes to a world beyond their own.”
HeppSY+ programme manager, Sharon Woodward-Baker, said, ‘The partnership between HeppSY+ and Future First provides a significant opportunity for our target schools and colleges to build long lasting relationships with those alumni who have benefited from higher education.’
Former students wishing to take part should sign up online at https://networks.futurefirst.org.uk/register