Faculty of Arts

Advice and information for staff

The following advice and guidance is intended to help staff when planning outreach activities with schools or young people and the community. 

In addition to this information, we strongly recommend that staff consult the Schools and Colleges Engagement workspace and the Community Partnerships workspace for more information that may be helpful to them. 

Example resources and
case studies

questions on chalkboard
The University has numerous resources to support staff taking part in outreach work with schools and the community


Why should I get involved with outreach activities?

Social responsibility

Outreach links closely with other university strategies and areas of work and seeks to complement them in terms of approach. Social Responsibility forms a key part of the University Strategic Plan, and the University is committed to active engagement with its local communities, schools and colleges, and the public in general. The University believes in mutual dialogue and exchange and the sharing of the University's valuable resources across the community.

Additionally, outreach by staff and students with schools and young people contributes to the continued regional effort to raise aspirations to university study and support rising educational attainment in schools, a key agenda for the University. 

Research Excellence Framework

As part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), significant additional recognition will be given where researchers have built on excellent research to deliver demonstrable benefits to the economy, society, public policy, culture or quality of life.

Outreach activities can count towards Research Impact, however it should be noted that staff must be able to demonstrate that activities are specifically linked to their research. Staff are advised to consult the REF website for further information.


How do I make contact with primary and secondary schools for outreach?

Whilst the University encourages outreach activities in a number of key priority areas, staff are free to develop and run their own activities with schools and colleges that may fall outside of these. Please get in touch with the contacts below for more information. 

Primary Schools

If you are looking to develop a project in partnership with primary schools, Community Partnerships can help create links with schools and support staff in getting their outreach projects up and running. Please contact Lisa Owen for more information about working with primary schools.

Secondary Schools/Colleges

The Widening Participation team work with a number of target schools and colleges within an hour's drive of University Park. A list of these is available on the Widening Participation workspace. Staff are encouraged to contact Emma Szembek, Schools and Colleges Manager, if they wish to work with any of these schools or for more information.


Nottingham University Samworth Academy (NUSA) is an 'independent' secondary school within the state sector, of which the University is a sponsor. Located in Bilborough, NUSA offers high-quality, free education and prioritises the admission of local youngsters. A number of innovative sessions have been delivered in partnership with NUSA, including the Fair Game initiative, featured on our Resources and Case Studies page. NUSA also operates a unique learning environment known as the wonder room.

The University's contribution to NUSA is managed by the Academies Project Unit. NUSA welcomes involvement from staff and students across the University community, and staff wishing to work with NUSA are advised to contact Professor Diane Birch in the first instance. A copy of the NUSA relationships document, as well as other guidance on working with NUSA, is provided on workspace

Staff may also wish to watch the following video about NUSA, which gives an insight into the school:

Putting the 'us' in NUSA



How do I design and plan successful outreach activities?

There are a number of existing outreach projects that staff may wish to get involved with across the University. Staff are also advised to speak to their school or department about additional opportunities.

However some staff may prefer to set up and run their own outreach activities and the University is keen to support colleagues where possible in doing so. The following advice may be of use when planning outreach activities or sessions, particularly in primary or secondary schools.

Training for staff and students

Training is available for staff and students who wish to take part in outreach activities in primary or secondary schools. This training usually lasts between two and three hours, and will cover things such as working with young people, how to deliver effective sessions, health and safety, child protection, and how to manage difficult classroom situations. For further information please contact Liz Tomlin (secondary schools) or Lisa Owen (primary schools).

Types of activities

Staff and students within the Faculty have run a wide and varied range of successful outreach activities involving both schools and adult communities. Details of some of these activities, as well as some worksheets and other resources that have been used in schools, are available for staff to view and download online.

When planning activities to use in schools, it may be helpful to speak to teachers to find out what the pupils are currently studying so that activities can be designed to complement the curriculum. Please see the links at the bottom of this page for more useful resources that may help when planning sessions and activities.

Managing time/timetabling sessions

Effective planning can help sessions run smoothly and keep children engaged. For longer events it is recommended that staff draw up a comprehensive timetable. Make sure to allocate enough time for breaks and, where necessary, refreshments.

However, even if planned perfectly, nature of a school environment means that plans can be subject to change at little or no notice. It is advised that staff bear this in mind when planning activities, and take a flexible approach where possible.

Communicating with teaching staff

Staff doing outreach work with schools should discuss plans with teachers before the sessions take place to ensure that all parties are aware of their responsibilities and the expected outcomes of the session. It may be helpful to refer teachers/group leaders to the Code of Conduct found within the Guidance on the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.

In particular teachers and group leaders should be made aware that the primary responsibility for the welfare of the children in their care rests with them at all times. The teacher should remain present in the classroom at all times and should be responsible for dismissing classes, discipline, etc.

Equality and diversity

Staff should take steps to ensure that any activities they plan or materials they produce take into consideration the diverse range of pupils who will be taking part in the activities.

In particular, language must be appropriate and non-discriminatory, and materials and topics covered should be presented in a way that is sensitive to equality and diversity. If the activity is to take place in a school, it is advised to seek advice from the teacher if your planned activities feature sensitive themes or subjects (religion, death, sex, politics). 

Staff should also ensure that they are aware of any specific needs/requirements of participants (access, mobility, sight and hearing impairments, allergies, disability or long-term medical conditions) in advance of the session so that such needs can be taken into consideration when planning activities.

Whilst primarily aimed at supporting university students, staff may find the inclusive strategies on the Disability Support workspace useful.

Involving students in outreach activities

Involving Student Ambassadors in outreach activities can be an excellent way of providing participants with positive role models while allowing students to gain valuable transferable skills for use in their degree and employment.

Staff wishing recruit students for their outreach work may wish to consult the Best Practice Guide for recruiting student Ambassadors. Sample application forms and a code of conduct are also available for download from the Schools and Colleges Engagement workspace, which staff can use or adapt to suit their own needs.


What funding opportunities are available to support outreach activities?

The University is keen to support school outreach activities and funding initiatives are available. In addition to those listed below, staff should consult with their school or department to see if other funding is available to them.

Widening Participation

The University can currently provide grants of up to £3000 to support Widening Participation initiatives in schools and departments. All University staff can apply with the approval of the Head of Department or School. Staff are advised to contact David Woolley to discuss proposals before applying. The funding guidelines can be found on workspace.


The Cascade fund currently award grants of up to £25,000 to support projects that improve the student experience by enhancing the skills, confidence, social awareness and employability of students, while making a significant impact on communities, both locally and globally. Recent examples include the Lakeside Literacy Project, where creative writing students devised and led writing workshops Further information about applying for a Cascade grant can be found on the Campaign Office workspace.

Work experience grant

The Careers and Employability Service provides grants of up to £500 to students to help them get involved in work experience activities, including volunteering. Please see the Careers and Employability Service web page for more information.


Participate is a scheme for students in the Faculty of Arts; it enables them to influence their learning and teaching experience in innovative ways. It’s about students identifying a project, forming a project team and researching solutions.



What health and safety procedures should I be following when planning activities with schools and young people?

The University has produced a number of health and safety resources to assist staff when planning outreach activities. Sample health and safety guidelines and a health and safety checklist can be downloaded from workspace, which may help staff identify areas that need to be addressed when planning their outreach activities. Staff should particularly consider the following:

Risk assessment

All activities involving children from schools and colleges should be risk assessed, and it is important that reasonable steps are taken to minimise any potential hazards. Risk assessments should also include emergency procedures, and staff should ensure that all participants and colleagues involved in the planned activity are aware of these.

A risk assessment template can be viewed and downloaded from the Schools and Colleges Engagement workspace. 

Parental consent/image capture

You may need to obtain parental consent for your activity or project, particularly if it falls outside of normal school hours and/or school responsibility.

In addition, parental consent is required to use an image of a young person. If you are intending to take photographs during your activity, you should ensure that parents are aware of this and ask for their written consent, usually in the form of a consent form. Please note that a child's name should never be published alongside their photo.

Examples of such forms can be downloaded from workspace. 


Staff should ensure that the University's Public Liability Insurance meets the needs of the event or activity that they are organising. This is particularly important for external events of events involving freelance staff. Further information about insurance can be found on the Commercial Services workspace.


What are my responsibilities in terms of child protection and safeguarding?

University policy

The University recognises that the welfare and safety of any children involved in University activities is of paramount importance. All staff taking part in outreach work should be familiar with the University's policy on safeguarding. A comprehensive guide to this policy can be downloaded from the Schools and Colleges Engagement workspace, and staff should make sure that they are familiar with it, particularly the Code of Conduct.

DBS checks (formerly called CRB checks)

Depending on the nature, duration and frequency of their contact with children, staff who take part in outreach activities may be required to obtain a DBS check. Checks for eligible volunteers are usually free of charge.

It is not usually necessary to obtain DBS checks if you are to have irregular contact with children for short periods of time. However please note that staff who have not had a DBS check should never be left unsupervised with children.

The University provides guidance for DBS check applications. Additionally, you may find the following external guidance useful:

Government advice on DBS checks

CRB checks guidance for volunteers





Evaluation and Feedback

In order to help meet the requirements of the University's Access Agreement and child protection guidelines, The Widening Participation team need to keep a log of all widening participation outreach work, even if it does not involve them directly.

Staff are asked to use the Activity Reporting form on workspace to inform the Widening Participation team about any outreach work that they are involved with.

External resources

The following external links may be useful in terms of designing activities for children and pitching them at the correct level. 

Primary Curriculum

Secondary Curriculum

BBC teaching resources

BBC Bitesize

Primary school resources
on the Viking age




Please make sure that you are aware of any copyright restrictions on material before making copies to use in a classroom.


Faculty of Arts

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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telephone: +44 (0) 115 846 8502
email: helen.frost@nottingham.ac.uk