The education system has been heavily scrutinised in recent years, with concerns regarding staffing shortages and experienced teachers leaving the profession.
England’s schools are facing a severe shortage of teachers with bigger class sizes and more subjects taught by staff without a relevant degree, says the Education Policy Institute (EPI).
Whilst calls for targeted pay is a frequently mentioned potential solution, the current economic climate means that increasing teacher salaries is not going to be a decision that is taken easily.
Therefore, other options are being explored by schools, including the use of volunteers, which is a solution that we believe could help free up teachers’ valuable time.
Parents and retired people from the community are often keen to get more involved in education and ‘give something back’. Of course, anyone working within schools must have Enhanced DBS checks, as with any other role in the school.
Advertising for volunteers can be as simple as sending a letter to parents, putting up posters in school or writing about volunteering on the school website. You could even advertise in local media.
You can attract volunteers by pointing out the benefits – e.g. work experience for students, the opportunity to share their skills, building networks within the school, and feeling more connected to the community.
Once the relevant checks have been made, you can collate a central list of volunteers with their different skills and experience, availability, their volunteering preferences and any other relevant information.
Teach Hub offers some insight into how you could use volunteers in your school and we have compiled some additional ideas below.
Different ways to use volunteers
Reading group volunteers – Helping children with their reading is one example of how a volunteer system could work well.
Volunteers simply need to listen to students reading their books and provide guidance where necessary.
Sports coaches – Some parents will have sports skills that could really benefit students, they may have played amateur football, managed a college netball team or are still heavily involved in sports.
They could bring their experience and skills into the school to run sessions, either regularly or as one-off taster sessions.
One-on-one support – Most students will benefit from some one-on-one support and as a teacher, you rarely have enough time to do that effectively for all your students.
A volunteer could take it in turns to sit with students in lessons to see if there are any areas they are struggling with a provide support.
Digital skills – If you don’t have IT specialists in the school then it could be a good idea to look at parents’ skills or even approach local technology-centric businesses to see if any of their employees would like to help through some volunteer work.
This could involve anything from volunteers showing students how to create interactive Powerpoints, to learning how to set up a basic website.
Help with events – You could ask for support when there are charity events, field trips, sports events etc. to help spread the tasks over a bigger team of people.
This is ideal for the parents that cannot volunteer on a regular basis but still want to support the school.
These are just a few of the ways that volunteers could add real value to the school but it is important to have a good setup in place, where you have reliable volunteers that are genuinely supporting the school’s objectives.
If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free share them with other readers in the comments below.