Education minister urges state headteachers to enlist support of ex-pupils as he returns to his former school in Leeds

Schools Minister Nick Gibb. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Schools Minister Nick Gibb. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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SCHOOLS Minister Nick Gibb returned to his Yorkshire roots as he set foot in his former school for the first time since leaving almost 40 years ago.

The MP visited Roundhay School, in Leeds, as part of a campaign to get more state schools to set up networks to enlist the support of past pupils.

The Tory Minister spoke to students of all ages today about his days at Roundhay and his route to the corridors of power in Westminster.

The Education charity Future First is urging state schools to set up alumni networks to allow past pupils to return to inspire the current generation.

Mr Gibb said: “Having done this I would definitely recommend it to people. I can’t think of anyone who would not want to go back to their old school and share their perspective with pupils.” Mr Gibb told pupils at Roundhay about the courses he had taken and how they had helped. The MP achieved three As in chemistry, maths and history and six Bs at O-level before going on to Durham University and a career in accountancy and then politics.

Mr Gibb said: “In the independent sector it is taken for granted that former school pupils remain involved and I think that is something that state schools should look to do. Coming back today the interior of the school has completely changed but the exterior, the playing fields and the Mansion House were exactly as I remember them.” For his visit the school had found registration paperwork with Mr Gibb’s name on it from his time at Roundhay.

He joined the school in 1973 and was there for three years up to the completion of his O-levels.

Roundhay’s headteacher Neil Clephan said; “We are very proud of our long-standing history of successful former students from all walks of life, ranging from eminent medical practitioners, engineers, authors, as well as an inspirational former Oxbridge‎ student (a back to back world rowing champion who hopes to compete in the Rio Olympics.” He said they were now looking to expand work with Roundhay alumni.

“Mr Gibb’s visit is another example of how we can widen the experiences of our school community” he added.

Mr Gibb said Roundhay was the only one of seven former schools that he had not been back to before today.

Back to School Week has been organised by Future First this week to highlight their campaign to state schools.

Future First/YouGov published research this week which showed that comprehensive school students are far more pessimistic about their future job prospects than their privately educated peers.

The state school students are ten times more likely to think people from their school don’t succeed in the world of work compared with students at private schools.

And they are five times less likely to think people who went to their school are very successful compared with their private school counterparts.

The polling also shows that private schools are better at asking for support from alumni, although former state students are just as likely to want to help current students at their old schools.

Future First Executive chair and former Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert said the figures showed there was a huge need to support state educated students make the difficult transition from school to work and to drive more ambitious thinking about their expectations of work in the modern world.

“Every state school student should have the opportunity to succeed in life after school, regardless of their background,” she said. “Many schools are already harnessing the skills and experience of alumni as role models who inspire and motivate current students. If students see people like them have succeeded they are more likely to believe they can too. They work harder and have higher expectations of success. We want more schools to see the benefits of using their alumni as a powerful resource.”

Future First works in 400 state secondary schools including 23 in Yorkshire.