This has been a very difficult year for our school pupils, especially those taking exams.
The pandemic has decreased young people’s confidence and belief in their futures. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds were already less likely than others to think they could be successful in life, and now the gap has widened.
So it’s vital young people have the opportunity to hear from those who’ve left their school and made a success of their lives.
It’s something private schools do extremely well with their alumni networks, and it’s vital children in state schools have the same opportunity.
Alumni prove to students that ‘someone like me’ can succeed – they are role models, show young people a future that can be theirs, and give them a network to help them on their way.
So I’m delighted that my council is partnering with the charity Future First, which is already working with hundreds of state schools and colleges across the country to establish alumni networks and links with local employers for existing pupils.
Together, we are piloting a Crowdfunder project to see if the community in Lincolnshire can help build these networks in local schools. If successful, the project will be rolled out nationally, so every child in every school will be able to benefit from the experience of former pupils who have left before them and gone on to pursue successful careers.
We know that meeting past students can make a significant difference. It gives the students of today another reason to learn and persevere when the going gets tough.
But creating these networks in every school won’t just be good news for pupils – it will be good news for councils too, because these pupils will be the local workers of the future. And with a successful workforce comes economic growth and prosperity.
After all, if I can make it into the House of Lords after a career as a builder there’s no limit to what every child, in every school, can achieve.