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with educational bodies
Making contact: Links with educational bodies
This section is divided into two. It considers links from the industry
and educational standpoints respectively.
Making Links with Educational Bodies
Choosing a suitable educational organisation to make an initial link
may be influenced by:
- Industry wide/group/company/ area/site policy or strategy, eg to
concentrate effort on getting over safety messages to primary schools;
working with a further education college(s) to promote recruitment.
- LEA/school/college/staff union/departmental policies, government
guidance, on external visits, industry/education links.
- The ability /enthusiasm of a school/college/teacher to forge links,
eg there may be no tradition of outside visits by key subject departments.
- Logistics - timetabling, finance, perceived legal/insurance matters.
All these aspects are covered in detail elsewhere in the report.
Which schools and colleges?
Find out either:
- which schools' catchment area relates to your site, or
- which specialist schools in your general area focus upon relevant
subjects e.g. science, technology (for 'specialist schools' see Appendix
In well populated areas, restrict your contact to schools within say
4-5 miles. This distance will probably need to be extended in more rural
Talk to other operators in the area - 'share out' approaches to local
schools (it makes no sense to compete for the interest of a particular
school/college or department). In some areas such as East Mendip, various
companies work together on aspects such as school links.
There are three broad groups: primary and secondary schools and higher
education institutions. However, within these three categories, there
is a bewilderingly complicated range of types and titles which are covered
in more detail in the Appendix
Despite this confusing situation, the main influences on choice can
be summarised as:
c) Subject relevance/specialisation
Within any industrial unit, a number of company staff will inevitably
have local educational contacts via pupils or staff, usually sufficient
to gauge the local educational scene. There are of course advantages
and disadvantages to using these as the route to making initial contact
with a school/college. This is a matter for local judgement, but it
is absolutely essential that at an early stage, any arrangements/initiatives
are formalised and acknowledged at the appropriate level/subject area
within the school/college.
Where contacts are not already known, educational institutions are
listed in Yellow Pages and almost all Local Education Authorities (LEAs)
list on their web sites, schools/colleges where they have some responsibility
or are prepared to supply names of contacts to genuine enquirers. Many
private sector schools belong to their own associations eg the Boarding
School's Association (see appropriate web sites). Most educational institutions
have their own web sites, mainly to recruit students.
Many secondary schools have special relationships with their 'feeder'
primary schools which may form a local primary 'cluster group' and could
provide a list of contacts for a given area.
Always try to make your approach to a named teacher/headteacher. Bear
in mind that although primary teachers are generally responsible for
children on age rather than subject basis, all primary schools should
have a lead teacher for key subjects e.g. science, maths. Otherwise,
where no teacher contact is known, the primary school headteacher is
likely to be the most appropriate.
After an initial phone call to establish contact details, follow up
with a confirmatory letter, e-mail or pre-arranged visit/interview at
the school or production unit as appropriate.
- Link with other operators to provide a 'comprehensive service'
for your area
- Use local contacts, Yellow Pages, web sites
- Follow up with formal/confirmatory approach/meeting
Visits to Schools/Colleges
Schools/colleges, especially primary schools, have become acutely aware
of the need to maintain security within school sites to protect children/students
or property, control parking etc. Direct access to relevant staff is
also often problematic (see Timing Contacts). Despite the difficulties
of making initial contacts therefore,
- Wherever possible, avoid 'cold call' visits, particularly to schools
Most school and many college staff are engaged in teaching for most
of the working day, especially in primary schools. This poses obvious
problems in seeing staff or staff making or taking calls. Schools and
staff vary greatly in their rules and willingness to take/make calls
and messages. E-mail communication is becoming increasingly important,
particularly in secondary schools.
Mid-morning/afternoon breaktimes vary considerably; lunch is usually
45 mins -1 hour taken at some time between 11.45am and 1.45pm. Teaching
staff tend to use these times, or before/after the teaching day, to
make calls/arrange meetings but may have to compete for space/phone
Most primary schools operate from c9am to c 3.15 pm, Monday to Friday.
Primary schools are generally less formal, but many smaller schools
only have part time secretarial cover and heads who teach for much of
Many secondary schools operate from 8.30 onwards to 3.45pm or later.
School offices are better staffed but in larger schools, communications
with specific staff again may be difficult. However, departments (particularly
science), often have dedicated phone extensions or external lines.
- When phoning schools, best times are usually before 9.15am, between
12.30pm and 1.30pm or after 3pm (primary)/after 3.45pm (secondary).
- When making verbal arrangements, whenever possible, follow up with
a confirmatory letter/e-mail.
- If you have no initial contact, ask for the head teacher or lead
science teacher in primary schools or the head of science (or possibly
geography/humanities) in secondary schools.
- Skim-read the section of this report on Education
and Appendix 21
Visits by schools are almost always confined to school hours (primary
schools have shorter days than secondary schools - see above) and in
school term time except where school groups are staying away from the
school e.g. for an outdoor study week. Term dates have traditionally
varied from area to area, but with some notable exceptions, recently
have begun to become more standardised across England. However the DfES
is consulting on the possibility of introducing a uniform school year
with three, more evenly- balanced terms (and a shorter summer break).
In addition, schools have in- service training (INSET) days (say 5 a
year - often Mondays or attached to holiday periods) for staff.
For administrative reasons, Mondays (especially morning) are often
regarded as difficult for primary schools.
Most outdoor work by schools is arranged in the period late April to
mid July, or in late September to mid October.
Curriculum and teaching programmes also strongly influence the appropriate
timing of visits.
Colleges and professional groups are often more flexible; colleges
usually have shorter terms than schools, but often carry out field work
in vacations, especially at Easter.
Interest groups often request visits outside normal weekday working
hours, especially at weekends.
Timings are usually constrained further by available transport and
school staff cover, (both for the visit itself and for related pupils
unable to participate). Both raise very important logistical and financial
issues. Transport is covered in detail elsewhere in this section. Staff
cover will be related to supervision ratios (see Health
and safety), and cost e.g. of engaging additional supply teachers,
are an important budgeting consideration. As a result primary schools,
with their more flexible timetabling are usually far more amenable to
making out-of-school visits than secondary schools. The 'culture' of
departments in secondary schools may also play a part (see Education
Timing of out of institution activities is usually dependent upon:
- School/college hours/terms
- Teaching commitments/cover
- Teaching schemes/curricula
- Availability of transport
See also: Making
contact: Links with industry