the new normal –
tips for organising
online and physical
Restrictions have eased and with less
uncertainty, we can all begin to think about
how to organise events to support the
achievement of the Gatsby Benchmarks and
ignite that lightbulb moment. Planning an
impactful event can seem daunting but you’re
certainly not alone and as higher education
institutions, we are here to advise.
Do you want an online or a physical university event?
This question was originally largely based
on whether you have the space for social
distancing; however, now with universities
awash with digital resources and platforms
to support information, advice and guidance
sessions and also largely available to travel...
you now have options!
I suggest you weigh up the benefits of face-to-
face delivery, could that talk simply be shown
on a live screen and resources sent beforehand
to have the same desired impact? Could pupils
be off timetable for a virtual work experience
day, meeting universities and employers alike?
Particularly with older year groups, young
people know which format they prefer so why
not empower your pupils and see which format
they would find most beneficial?
Choosing digital...which online platform should
you use for your university event?
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s
that there is an abundance of online platforms
to choose from such as Microsoft Teams,
Zoom and Adobe Connect, which all promote
a different level of interactivity. Providers will
likely have access to some of these platforms
so you don’t necessarily have to use your
If you have concerns about safeguarding,
restrictions can normally be applied such as a
password or enabling the teacher themselves
to admit students from a register. Don’t be
afraid of requesting the university to lock down
settings in order to meet your safeguarding
policy and risk assessment.
If face-to-face delivery is appropriate then I
suggest for the short-medium term, ensure you
send PPE guidance to all visitors beforehand
and have hand sanitiser upon entry. As visitors,
we want to arrive prepared and be good
examples for your pupils.
An appropriate distance between the speaker
and students within a classroom should be
maintained, so that everyone feels comfortable
and safe as life within schools starts to return
Organised chaos is better than no organisation
Universities receive a number of requests so
do research into the date and check whether
it conflicts with local or national career
exhibitions. You could also consider linking up
with another school within your Academy Trust
or a local school to help encourage a larger
variety of providers to attend. Alternatively, you
could schedule your event a day either side to
allow providers to book accommodation and
attend both local events.
What information will universities need?
The more details, the better! I suggest
including the following details in your first
email and then your confirmation email two
weeks before the event:
• Date, times and location
• Expected size of audience*
• Car parking information
• Schedule of the day
• Refreshment information
• Anything that may impact the day - such as
• The main organiser’s contact details
• If possible, information about the key learning
outcomes of any workshop sessions.
* We appreciate audience size can fluctuate so an
approximate number is fine, it helps universities
bring the correct quantity of literature.
Maximise speaker efficiency
Avoid booking multiple institutions to deliver
the same talk to a handful of students.
Universities have finite resources and
particularly this year will be trying to cover as
many events as possible to support gaps in
Refreshments - to be or not to be, that is the
This will always be budget-dependant! As a
general rule, tea/coffee/water goes a long way,
particularly for those colleagues who may
have left at sunrise, travelling from afar. Food
is always welcomed, but you don’t have to
provide this. Simply let those attending know in
advance if they need to bring their own food –
nobody likes a room full of hungry stomachs!
A passionate event will make a world of
Be creative and don’t be afraid of asking
for feedback from both your pupils and
I hope you find these tips useful and whether it
will be your first or your hundredth event, I wish
you the best of luck in organising a successful
one as we all get back to a sense of normality.