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Uni outreach > Tackling Challenges

The below are tips drawn from regional and national contacts with regards to tackling common challenges arising from STEM outreach activities:

  • Establish formal agreements that indicate expectations of the project from both the HEI and the school
  • Clarify details on clear communication routes into the school, points of contact and access to students
  • Factor in preparation time for schools to plan the activities in which their pupils will be involved over the course of the academic year in advance. Ideally, give schools at least a term’s notice
  • Get to know your contacts and build a relationship with schools and teachers
  • A list of learning outcomes is helpful when you have a meeting with schools. It helps them see the benefits of participation
  • Always try to have face-to-face contact / meetings wherever possible
  • Establish your own outreach website or web-pages that provides information on: whom to contact and how; regular and forthcoming events; reports from past events; description of outreach activities; health and safety requirements etc
  • Ensure that the activity doesn’t start before 10am to allow schools to travel. Some flexibility on start time is important for those schools that have to travel long distances. Finish around 2.30pm to allow students to return to school before going home
  • Charge a deposit for bookings to reduce the likelihood of last minute cancellations
  • Plan well in advance. University departments cannot put together activities at short notice and laboratories and teaching spaces book up quickly
  • Take time to establish effective working partnerships with internal and external partners to maximise the impact of outreach activity
  • Have a range of short activities (e.g. 3 x 30 minute activities) to hold students’ interest
  • If lab space is tight during term-time, offer activities to schools for early September or late June / July
  • Enthuse senior managers with the positive outcomes of outreach activities so that they are more willing to factor such activity into your workload