Image showing students thinking about their futures

 by Sophie Craven
, posted On 29 Dec '16
 Schools & Colleges Liason Officer

How teachers can build lasting links with universities? Our top tips:

Guest blog by Sophie Craven, Schools and Colleges Liaison Service, The University of Huddersfield

Most schools already have existing links with universities, but have you ever wondered if you are getting the most from these relationships? As busy professionals in schools, there may be opportunities that universities can provide you with, which you weren’t even aware of.

Example activities

Below are some of the activities on offer which range from one hour to a one-year programme, with some taking place on university campuses and others in schools.

Higher education preparation - a range of non-subject specific HE preparation activities covering themes such as how to choose a course, student finance and writing personal statements.

Subject focused activities – including masterclasses, subject tasters, undergraduate level modules and lectures to broaden students’ horizons to new subject areas such as engineering and architecture. Many universities can provide enhancement activities for sixth form programmes and some also provide support for the EPQ.

Skills development – non-subject specific activities designed to develop the skills required to succeed in HE including research methods and academic writing.

Targeted activities – be aware that some activities may be targeted at specific groups including primary, pre-16, post-16, adult learners, BME, females, more able, white working-class boys and care-leavers, and could include subject tasters, summer schools, and mentoring and reading schemes.

Services for school staff

In addition to activities for young people, universities may be able to offer a range of opportunities for school staff including partner school schemes, CPD programmes for subject specialists and IAG advisers, and support for school leadership through governor programmes and leadership mentoring schemes.

Volunteers in schools

Schools can take advantage of the fact that many university students seek volunteering experience as part of their course or via the Students’ Union. Such experiences may include assisting in the classroom or working on a specific project with children such as art, drama, music or the environment.

Ten tips for forging lasting links with universities

1. Visit university websites, as many events and activities will be publicised there already. If you have a specific request make contact with the education liaison team and for regular updates request to be added to their events mailing list.

2. Even for subject specific requests, contact the education liaison team who are best placed to make internal links with academic staff on your behalf.

3. Don’t be afraid to request bespoke activities but do be aware that universities have their own priorities too. This might be about working with a certain target group for widening participation purposes or working within a certain geographical area.

4. Speak to your Head of Sixth Form and Heads of Department – your school may already have an established relationship with a university that you were not aware of.

5. Consider approaching universities as a cluster of schools. Your students will benefit from this approach by working on activities with young people from other schools.

6. When making requests, be clear about your requirements from the outset, including theme, objectives, dates and numbers.

7. Don’t just limit your requests to student based activity. Consider how universities can work with you and your colleagues to support CPD.

8. Ensure activity is developed as part of an ongoing programme of provision and not as a one-off or bolt on. Use activity to build upon, consolidate and enhance work going on in school so that young people appreciate and understand the value of the experience.

9. Make sure your requests are reasonable and your expectations are realistic.

10. Develop relationships with a range of universities so that your learners have experiences over a number of years that enables progression and avoids repetition.



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The Teachers’ Guide has been produced by UniTasterDays.com in collaboration with HELOA - to support the university guidance that is provided in secondary schools and colleges.

Editorial has been provided by over 35 colleagues at universities throughout the UK, on topics including building university links, the Gatsby benchmarks, degree apprenticeships, university CPD opportunities, the university events available for school groups and more.


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