Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The School Gate SET FAQ


School Gate SET FAQ from Jan Peters on Vimeo.

Don't have time to watch the recording? Questions and answers are summarised below...

"Why are you focusing on Primary Schools, rather than Secondary?"
Parents tend to develop a closer relationship with their children's primary school. There are more events that parents are invited to participate in and more calls for help (e.g. supervising class trips, listening to readers, fundraising etc). We want to make it much more common to extend this help to science, technology and maths. Primary school teachers need to have knowledge of a wide range of subjects, but many of them do not come from a STEM background and can really appreciate extra support in these areas. Finally, the primary school years are when mothers, in particular, are more likely to be on a career break or working part time and so have time to get involved during the school day.

 "I want to help out in my nephew/grandaughter's school. Is the School Gate SET only for parents?"
Of course not! The important thing is that you have the time and energy to build an ongoing relationship with the school. You might also be interested in signing up to the STEM ambassadors program. They will arrange a DBS (criminal record) check which will allow you to work with and inspire young people across a number of schools. 

"My daughter is only in nursery.  There’s not much I can do to help such little ones. "
We hope that the school will want to take advantage of expert help across all year-groups, not just your child’s class.  For example, we have had a Mum whose child is in reception giving Forensic Science workshops to Year 5 & 6.  

"I work full time for an engineering company but I’d really like to help..."
Does your employer support the STEM ambassador program?  Many companies are aware of the looming STEM "skills gap" and are keen to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. They may give you time off to work in a local school.

"Does it matter what kind of STEM background I have?"

Not at all. It's important for children to be aware of the wide range of careers available to them and to realise that science, engineering and, of course, technology underpin so much of modern life. For example, a parent who works in graphic design ran a very popular after-school club teaching computer animation. Please be aware, though, that to take part in the Ingenious workshops, funded by the RAE, we do have to give priority to parents with a background in engineering.  

"Does it matter where I live?"
No, we want the School Gate SET to be a nationwide project. We are very active on social media; post all our news and activity ideas online; and are happy to chat via Skype or e-mail. Note, though, for Ingenious funded training workshops we have a very limited budget for travel, so these will be taking place in and around Hertfordshire and Dorset.

"What will I be expected to do?  I’m very out of touch with my science background!"
It's important to talk to the school about how you can adapt your interests and skills to the school’s needs. We can provide plenty of ideas and advice for that initial conversation. It's not necessary to stand up in front of a whole class of children: you could administer the school website/computing equipment; suggest activities to extend and enrich the curriculum; or help with the paperwork for, e.g., the Primary Science Quality Mark.

"What is the commitment if you join up?"
Our School Gate SET members are all volunteers, so any time you can spare we are grateful for. We hope that you will want to become a STEM Ambassador and develop an ongoing relationship with your school.  For the Ingenious workshops there will be one training day (confined to school hours) and delivery of at least one activity for the school. 

"What is the Ingenious training? When and where will it happen?"
The training will focus on confidence building and Strengths assessment; tips for working in schools; and the opportunity to practice delivering a specific engineering activity. We anticipate that the workshops will run in October 2016 so that you will be ready to go into schools to support "Tomorrow's Engineers" week between the 7th and 11th of November.

"Strengths" assessment...?
We will be using the Gallup Strengths Finder tool, a personality-type tool which helps to identify what your unique skills are and how they enable you to work best and relate to others. This can be particularly important if you are thinking of getting back into the workplace after a career break, but is also really useful for working in schools as you can recognise the children's different learning styles and adjust your approach to engage meaningfully with them. 

"How do I keep in touch?  I don’t do Facebook or Twitter."
Keep an eye on this blog and/or sign up for our newsletter. Don't worry, we won't bombard you with e-mails: just an update once or twice a term plus any really exciting news we have to share!

Got any more questions? Ask us in the comments...

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