How can my school start up a past pupils’ union?

Technological advances mean schools can easily help reconnect childhood friends

I left secondary school in 1961 and emigrated to Canada a few years later. I recently contacted my alma mater to enquire about organising a reunion of my class group; sadly, they were not able to help as they don’t have an active past pupils’ union. Is there any mechanism for schools to set one up?

I understand your sense of disappointment. I entered Oatlands College as a seven-year-old in 1961 and ended up teaching there, but lost contact with most of those whom I grew up with in school.

While some schools have very active past pupils’ unions, many do not. Managing a second level school today is a mammoth task, given the huge body of legislation pertaining to education which has been enacted in the past twenty-three years, since the 1998 Education act was passed.

Developing and maintaining a database of past pupils would rightly be a very low priority, when looked at from the perspective of the often-complex needs of current students.


A minimum investment in programming on their school's website is all that is required to facilitate the process

But the technological advances in communications technology of recent years opens up the possibility for reconnecting with childhood friends.

Recently, my own alma mater put in place a simple, secure registration process on their webpage to allow past pupils to register their interest in being added to a shared database of their own year group.

Once registered, it becomes a matter for that group to determine the degree or extent to which they choose to communicate, organise ten yearly get togethers etc.

For principals of schools and colleges who wish to facilitate their alumni staying in touch, a minimum investment in programming on their school's website is all that is required to facilitate the process.

The technological options are many and varied. Schools can create a PPU Twitter account for the alumni with notices and events. Alumni can join and see the work that is taking place in their alma mater.

They can, as my alma mater has done, establish a PPU section on their website where past students can liaise and contact other past pupils.

They can distribute a Microsoft Form using Office 365 to allow past pupils to share their information. This data can be tabulated and then used to create a database of email addresses and phone numbers. WhatsApp groups/email addresses can then be created from this information.

Colleges alumni can also share/advertise their business contacts for current students to offer possible TY work placements, which would be of huge benefit to existing pupils.

I hope that this article might encourage yours and many schools to utilise modern technology to build a lifelong network of connectivity, which in our Covid-19 world of enforced isolation, is vital for our mental health.

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