A college in North Devon has signed up for a nation-wide scheme to help state schools engage former students.

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BIDEFORD College has become one of 500 state schools nationally to take part in a brand new government-back scheme setting up alumni networks.

Run by the charity FUTURE FIRST, the scheme helps state secondary schools and colleges engage former students and encourage current student’s aspirations.

“As a former Edge Hill College student, I have seen the benefits of a strong alumni network and I think this is something that will be really good for us,” said Averill Jewell, head of science at Bideford College.

“FUTURE FIRST will help us build up this network, and hopefully in the future we can have former students come back and talk to our current ones, or offering work experience placements.

“We signed up all the current year 11 students at their prom last month, and years 12 and 13 will sign up on results day.

“So by September, we should already have 250-300 people on the database which will be a fantastic start.”

The charity will help the college set up a website, and once the scheme is more established, Bideford College will be looking to branch out to all former pupils.

“The popularity of the scheme shows how much schools value raising their students’ confidence that they can have successful careers, particularly against the backdrop of rising youth unemployment,” said Alex Shapland-Howes, managing director of FUTURE FIRST.

“If students see that someone who lived in their road, maybe had some of the same teachers or has achieved a fulfilling and successful job, it shows them what they can go on to achieve too if they work hard.

“We want success to depend on talent, not background. It’s vital for the country’s future prosperity that students are motivated to work hard to achieve fulfilling careers.”

The scheme is run with £250,000 funding from the Social Action Fund, which is managed by the Social Investment Business of behalf of the Cabinet Office.

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