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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds GERARD LISTON: The foundation of long-lasting relationships is trust and understanding. And the same principle applies to relationships between education and employers. We’d never expect a teacher to walk into a local employer and start managing the business. Likewise, we shouldn’t expect an employer to be able to manage a class of young people. Creating an encounter with an employer that’s embedded in classroom learning needs to be based on a clear understanding of respective roles. The teaching staff should remain responsible for lesson planning for lesson delivery, for classroom management, and for impact assessment. And the employer guests are responsible for providing the real information and resources for providing some kind of purposeful challenge, and for sharing their career stories.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds NEIL WILLIS: Employers don’t necessarily understand the curriculum. Yes, they’ve all been a student. And they’ve all been at school or college. But that was a long time ago. And it can be quite an alien language. So it’s just really putting that into perspective and starting with suggesting those ideas where there’s links. And what we tend to find is that those discussions quickly snowball. And they become something that really sort of starts to gain momentum, and really does start to develop into either quite a short project. It might be something that is just done over in a lesson or two. Or something actually runs over a period of weeks.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds ANDREW CLARKE: In terms of embedding employers into the curriculum, be very, very clear about what you want them to do, OK? In terms of individual lessons, been very, very clear about how your STEM Ambassador can affect the outcome of that lesson. It’s very, very important for you to do that. If you are talking about planning a scheme of work over a couple of terms, please bring your STEM Ambassadors in. Ask them for advice. Do some CPD with them. If you are a member of a cluster of schools, it could very well be that you get together with your science leads in other clusters, and actually work with particular employers on particular subjects.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 seconds Remember, STEM Ambassadors are there for that purpose too. We count that as engagement, and very viable engagement too. So what I would say to teachers more than anything else is work with your STEM Ambassadors. Work with your employers. Make sure you know what you want to get out of them on a short term and a long term basis.

Skip to 2 minutes and 33 seconds GERARD: However, you find potential partners, you should have a compelling proposition in mind before making contact. What are we asking the employer to do? How will this contribute to curriculum learning? When is this scheduled to happen? And why should the employer get involved?

Establishing a successful relationship with an employer

When working with employers, take into account the time that they are taking out of their working day to help you. Consider starting with smaller commitments, such as online meetings or careers presentations, developing your relationship over time to larger commitments like workplace visits and collaborative projects. Try to avoid arranging activities that require multiple employer volunteers, unless you are sure that you can recruit the number of volunteers needed to be successful.

A successful relationship requires…

1. A clear understanding of what support the employer can provide

This might be established through email / phone communication or a meeting. Some employers will have a suite of support they can offer, others will be willing to work with you to create specific support for your school or college.

2. An understanding of the curriculum area that the employer is supporting

Information on the topic, its sequencing within your curriculum and specific key words that you wish the employer to use, are vital for ensuring that employer engagement fits within your curriculum planning.

3. Awareness of the needs of your students

For each engagement, prepare the employer for working with your students by providing them with information that will help them deliver a successful outcome. This might include raising awareness of additional needs, inclusion arrangements, discussing the appropriateness of specific activities such as group work and highlighting key areas of interest raised by students through your surveys in Week 1. Remember, classroom management is your responsibility and the employer will need your support to ensure that all students are engaged, throughout the duration of the activity.

4. Realistic timescales

Be realistic in your ask to an employer. Designing an engagement that creates a purposeful challenge for students will take and likely require multiple conversations between yourself and the employer.

5. understanding of the curriculum time and facilities that are be available

Explain to the employer what resources you have available, this includes teaching rooms, equipment, staffing and time allocated for the engagement. Where appropriate, an employer may offer to host at their site. If this is the case, be sure to arrange a visit to the site beforehand so that you can risk assess the location and any activities that students might be engaged in.

6. Celebration, review and evaluation

After the employer engagement, thank your employer volunteers for their work with you. If you are looking to work with the employer again, letting them know that you value their time will help set foundations for future collaboration. As well as a thank you, seek and provide feedback where appropriate. These resources from STEM Learning provide a starting point for evaluating employer engagements with students.


Looking at the list above, what challenges might you encounter? Is there additional information that you might discuss with an employer to ensure that an engagement is successful?

This additional video includes STEM Ambassadors explaining the types of planning conversations they have with teachers in schools and colleges, when deciding what type of STEM activity they will run.

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This video is from the free online course:

Linking Curriculum Learning to STEM Careers

National STEM Learning Centre