They can provide a range of experiences, opportunities and knowledge, and their unique insights and stories can help motivate current pupils, raising their aspirations and allowing them to fulfil their potential.
Education charity Future First helps schools and educational establishments all over the UK build thriving alumni communities, opening up all sorts of opportunities for school children. In a recent poll it found that 71% of young people aged six to 15 felt it would be useful to meet people who went to their school and hear them talk about their journeys. Future First has a range of memberships available, and if it's something you think could benefit your school then you could offer to cover the cost using PTA funds, as one London secondary school has done for the past three years.
In the meantime, there are various ways your PTA can support your school when it comes to alumni. We asked the team at Future First to tell us how a PTA can help establish an engaged community of alumni at their school:
Help build the alumni network
PTAs are skilled at finding former pupils and other local volunteers who are keen to get involved with school life. PTA members can reach out to their networks and contacts, encouraging them to keep in touch. At one primary school in Haringey, London, the PTA has taken on the responsibility for social media and local community outreach to find former pupils of the school.
Engage the alumni community
Your alumni and role model community can help at school with activities such as speaking in assembly, assisting in class or hosting an after-school club. PTA members can work with school staff to find innovative ways to involve these volunteers. They might also help with PTA fundraising by donating a raffle prize, hosting a stall at the summer fair or providing equipment for your events. At one primary school near Exeter, the PTA chair established the school's relationship with Future First and continues to works alongside the headteacher, finding volunteers and working out how best to involve them in school life beyond the classroom.
Research suggests state schools and colleges have the opportunity to collectively raise £50-£100 million per year from their alumni. Alumni might sponsor a child to attend a school trip, donate money to a building project at school, purchase books for a new library or donate to a technology fund to support children's home learning. A secondary school in Wembley, London wrote to alumni asking them to sponsor students for a firefighting course. It included an appeal video from students and raised the money in just two days.
- For more information on Future First, go to futurefirst.org.uk.