For the past two years, the Integrated AlumNI have being going ‘Back to School’. In a unique initiative established by the AlumNI and the IEF, members of the AlumNI have taken part in a Back to School Roadshow visiting integrated schools across Northern Ireland. The two-day roadshow is delivered by members of the AlumNI and is currently aimed at AS and A Level students. The roadshow grants pupils within integrated education an opportunity to engage with past pupils, to seek encouragement and mentoring from those who have the shared experience of having attended an integrated school. The interactive workshops include activities and discussion centred on the meaning of integration, options for pupils for the future and how the Integrated AlumNI can act as a network of support and friendship as current pupils prepare to leave integrated education and enter the world of further education or work.
Members of AlumNI expressed a wish to give back to integration and the roadshow is just one way we do this. After the roadshow this year AlumNI member Caen Fahy, a former pupil at Drumragh Integrated College commented:
“I moved over to England to study and now the Back to School Roadshow is my way to give something back and offer reassurance and advice to current pupils who are about to leave school and move on to the next stage in their life. It’s important that they know about the friendship, help and support available through the Integrated AlumNI groups.”
Membership of the AlumNI ranges from those who have just left school to those who are well established in their careers across a wide variety of sectors. A key part of the roadshow is speed mentoring where AlumNI members can offer advice for current pupils on career options. The speed mentoring offers pupils the chance to discuss their plans for the future. This year the mentoring focused on a wide range of topics including; what it was like to go to university, how members settled in if they moved to England, what are the best dishes to cook when you leave home and options available for pupils wishing to go straight into work or apprenticeships. Stuart Irwin a past pupil of Hazlewood commented on the benefits of the speed mentoring;
“Positive engagement with past pupils can really raise aspirations for current students. This programme is a great way of showing young people what possibilities are ahead and reassuring them that mentoring and support is available”.
I am a past pupil of Mill Strand Integrated Primary School and North Coast Integrated College. I am currently working as a regulatory solicitor in Leeds. I left North Coast in 2009 and moved to Liverpool to study Law and Politics at the University of Liverpool. It was during university that I realised the lasting impact integrated education had had on me. Integrated education instilled in me that I could be whatever I wanted to be if I was willing to work hard. The back to school roadshow offered me the chance to give back, to inspire those coming through integrated schools to aim high. You will see below photographs of when I went ‘back to school’ at North Coast!
This year’s roadshow is due to take place in March 2018. If you would like your integrated school to become part of the roadshow or would like to participate as a past pupil then please do not hesitate to contact us.