How you can help at school

Introduction

Schools really value employers taking part in their careers activities. Your contribution helps students to understand workplace expectations and relationships, which may be different to home and school. We realise that taking part in school activities can be daunting for business people. Whether that is presenting to a group of young people or readjusting to the school environment.

The hints and tips below aim to make this as easy as possible for you.

The logistics

The school that has invited you should provide clear location and timing information - including where to park and who to report to. Typically, you will sign in at the reception desk. A DBS check is not required for activities such as assemblies and mock interviews.

The brief

Your contact at the school should have explained clearly:

  • the type of activity you are contributing to
  • how long it will take
  • how many students are taking part and how old they are
  • what input they would like from you

Typical activities include inspirational talks or assemblies, mock interviews and business challenges.

Preparation

This is the key to feeling confident. The amount and type of preparation required will vary according to the activity. Here are some ideas to help you plan:

Inspirational talks and assemblies

You could explain what inspired you to follow this path and what opportunities now exist for young people. Consider if you could demonstrate a skill, activity or product from your industry and involve the students in this. For example:

Craft and practical – could you demonstrate something then let the young people try in a safe or simulated manner?
Knowledge based – could you outline some scenarios and set the young people a task to solve?

Mock interviews

The school may provide set questions, but if not, aim to help the students identify their skills and how to explain these to an employer. Focus questions on the personal skills required by most work places, rather than technical skills required in your industry. Examples include:

When have you demonstrated team-work skills? Students could outline how they have taken part in group projects at school or been part of a sports team, drama group or similar.
When have you demonstrated leadership ability? This could relate to the activities above, or within a family or friendship group where the young person has needed to step forward.

Business challenges

The event organiser should have briefed you on your role. Typically, this will involve helping the students prepare a business plan or solve a problem. Your role is not to provide the answers, but to ask questions which help the students find their own solution. For instance, if planning a budget, check that they have considered all possible outgoings, as they may be unaware of some costs.

Your expectations

The students’ engagement and contribution can vary hugely between individuals and groups. Preparing well for the session will help you connect confidently with the students whilst the teacher present will challenge any poor behaviour. Nonetheless you may find some groups are immediately engaged whilst others are less responsive. This may be due to age and maturity or other at home or at school that day.
It is the teacher’s responsibility to manage this.

Feedback

Please do share your thoughts on the session with your contact at the school. This will help to improve the experience for you and other employers supporting the school.

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