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Volunteering to gain school experience

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by Ichia, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. Ichia

    Ichia New commenter

    Hello,
    I'm struggling to get any response from schools about gaining school experience. Someone on another thread mentioned it could be because I don' t have dbs. I have the old crb going back a few years - can't see any expiry date. Not sure if that's good enough Has anyone managed to gain school experience without it? I'd be happy to get it but from what I can gather you can't apply for it as an individual. Any other tips on getting school experience. Really keen to have something arranged before I apply for 2016.
     
  2. OBakaSama

    OBakaSama Occasional commenter

    Tricky.

    What age group are you looking to gain experience with? In my experience secondary schools are notoriously difficult to gain experience in (to the extent that even with a friend of a friend being a headteacher of one that I was denied any volunteering in their school). Primaries are more receptive towards volunteers, but if you are seeking to work in KS3 and beyond it could be a waste of time (when applying for jobs or courses, you may have the 'lack of relevant experience' used against you).

    I personally couldn't find volunteering the first time around, and relied on contacts I made elsewhere for my first volunteering experience in a primary school. When I met the headteacher I was very frank with them as I was a Job Seeker at the time, so I couldn't guarantee commitment; but depending on circumstance I would be there every week. They told me that they'll take that chance and I was there until I got onto the PGCE.

    My second experience was persistence in that I contacted every school I knew in my city until one actually said 'yes', and even then that was after contacting 30 schools.

    The DBS/CRB is an issue, I believe, but not that you don't have one. As far as I'm aware, at least from a few years ago, an individual cannot apply for a DBS; it had to be from an institution. From your comment that doesn't seem to have changed. Assuming things haven't changed, the DBS/CRB lasts for three years for the same institution; though I think things have been made easier for transfers under a different scheme. If you go elsewhere, I think that new place will just have you apply for a new DBS/CRB anyway if the one you have is old.

    Sometimes, what is at issue is the cost of the DBS/CRB. When a school has you apply for one, they bear the cost of it; and they are likely to want some commitment from you as a result. Even then, that is no guarantee the school will take you on (I offered to volunteer every day for a school which was close to where I live and still got rejected; for another, I offered to pay for my DBS/CRB so the school didn't have to bear the cost and was also rejected); so it does come down to luck.

    On other occasions it is very much a case the school can't take on another volunteer as there are others who want to gain experience for a PGCE (or similar) too; so it's a first come, first served situation. Given the time of year, I believe you fall into this category. It may just be that you have to wait until others leave that allows you a place.

    Technically a school could apply for a List 99 for each instance you are at school. (Looks like it's been renamed to Children's Barred List now.) However, that makes little administrative sense to me looking at the details of it.

    Strictly speaking it isn't really school experience that is required, but experience of working with children. Are there any clubs in your area? Have you tried applying for TA jobs? Private schools or other variations? Are there charities which involve working with children? I know the NSPCC has a volunteer scheme where people are trained to deliver a presentation and activities concerning ChildLine. Again, this requires some commitment (training to deliver the content, and actually travelling to deliver the content); but may be worth investigating at least.

    From memory, the PGCE requires 20 days of experience. At least for my course, it did. I have a friend who had an interview for the PGCE without any experience in school, but got rejected due to lack of experience (yes, it does sound silly).

    Keep persevering! Good luck.
     
  3. Ichia

    Ichia New commenter

    Thanks so much. That's really helpful. It's primary I'm trying to get into. So far I've only been in touch with schools near me but I guess I'll need to contact a lot more. That's a great idea about offering to pay for my dbs and also other ways to get experience of working with kids.
    I'll keep at it!
     
  4. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I wouldn't say this is true, unless things have significantly changed since I did my PGCE (5 years ago). It was definitely British state school experience that was needed. I had three years' experience working with children abroad, but was offered a place on a PGCE course on condition that, before I started, I completed 10 days' experience in a British school.

    Experience of working with children in any capacity will strengthen your application, but I think you really do need school experience too, although that's not necessarily easy to find. How are you contacting schools? A telephone call or going in person (at a convenient time of day - 9am and 3pm are times to avoid!) is likely to be more fruitful than an e-mail. Good luck in your search.
     
  5. Ichia

    Ichia New commenter

    So far I've called, emailed/sent letter. I'll try popping in - hadn't thought of that. I've also asked someone who does regular supply teaching at a primary school if he'll put in a word for me. Fingers crossed.
     
  6. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    Snap.
    I've resorted to gaining experience through work and found jobs in which I was working alongside 11-18yo's, this then gives me my DBS so I can contact schools for voluntary experience.
    I signed up to a teaching agency too, who have put me on a course to fill in my skill gaps and they'll provide me a DBS too and help me find positions.

    I rang up a few SCITT placements today and they said the experience isn't essential and that in the 40 days after your application they will help you find a school placement.
     
  7. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    I thought if you were volunteering the school did not have to pay for the DBS. My info may be out of date.
     
  8. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    They'll always want a DBS, especially if they're not employing you.
     
  9. OBakaSama

    OBakaSama Occasional commenter

    There are rarely exceptions to the DBS. Closest was the old List 99 (now Children's Barred List), and even that isn't really a substitute for a DBS if a committed volunteer.

    At least DBS's seem to be more flexible than the old CRBs with the added option of paying for easy transfers, or at least how they can work now. One of my lecturers mentioned that when they had to go to another institution, they had to apply for a CRB for every institution they were to visit and teach in.
     
  10. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    Have you signed up to "get into teaching"? They have a "School Experience Programme" in which you can apply at participating schools for experience. I didn't have any in my area but you may be lucky.

    Or think outside of the box and apply for jobs like Teaching Assistant, or Support Worker at "special" schools. I'm a Mental Health Support Worker and often have to help out at the on-site school.
     
  11. e_bradley913

    e_bradley913 New commenter

    I found I had absolutely no luck finding school experience when I was applying to schools in the large city where I live for university. However, when I tried a small town near where I grew up, that is no where near a uni I had much more success - no students around meant they had far less people asking.
    Also, try and find an email address for the department of the subject you want to teach, not just a general admin email!
     
  12. Gsr25

    Gsr25 Occasional commenter

    Schools will generally do your dbs for you on a volunteer basis.
     
  13. rolls

    rolls Occasional commenter

    Have you applied for a teaching course yet? If you have and been offered a place, even provisional then the institution where you will be studying may be able to help you get a DBS. If not then do a Google search for schools in your area looking for volunteers, some have now stared advertising online. When looking for opportunities write a full personal statement explaining your strengths and what you can offer the school. Email it to the headteacher with your full contact details and then follow it up with a phone call or week or two later if they have not contacted you.
    You might also consider other experience of working with young children such as helping at a scouts group or afte school club, no it is not school experience but it will strengthen your application and give you worthwhile experience.
    Whichever route you take you will probably need to pay for a DBS unless you gain paid employment.
     

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