inGenious guidelines to support school-industry collaboration, available soon


13/02/2013

Prepare to have your questions answered. inGenious is just about to release a set of practical guidelines to reinforce successful school-industry collaborations in the field of STEM. Sound interesting? Find out more.

 

How to ensure that interactions between schools and companies are ethical, safe and mutually respectful.
 
If you’re a teacher, you might be in two minds about getting your students involved with a local company or big business. You can see the advantages of the commercial sector enthusing children about the practical applications of the STEM subjects – but have volunteers been cleared to work with kids, won’t you just get bombarded with publicity and are proper consents obtained?
Or perhaps you work in business and would like to reach out to local schools, but are concerned about the legal aspects and all the red tape. And what about the safety implications, if pupils come to your place of work?
 
Making school and industry collaboration safe for everyone
 
If either of these situations sounds familiar, there’s some good news on the way. Starting in spring this year, European Schoolnet will be issuing code of practices designed to make life a lot easier for schools and businesses that want to collaborate.
The document will outline the do’s and don’ts for a successful, hassle-free and safe visit to a plant, lab, office or any other place of work. It will also help ensure that visits by organisations to schools and classrooms are legal, ethical and meet the high standards demanded by the teaching community.
 
Extensive advice – from years of experience
 
The Code of practice was formulated by European Schoolnet's Ethics Review Committee, and drafted by John Stringer and Jean-Noël Colin, Senior Technical Advisor at European Schoolnet.
 
John Stringer explains how the document came together. "Teachers, companies and professional bodies have a huge amount of experience in this field. We simply had to draw on that”.
 
And draw they did – and in depth. John and Jean-Noël Colin interviewed panels of teachers, questioned companies and sought advice from inGeniouspartners, as well as industry.
 
The educational professionals that were quizzed provided their wish list of ethical behaviour for businesses. Problem areas included selling to pupils in any way, giving the company's solutions or products preferential consideration and ubiquitous branding, including company colours.
 
Companies gave two types of information. First, organisations with an extensive experience of visits from schools explained their own best practices for avoiding any problems or conflicts of interest between themselves and the schools. Issues around legal responsibility and, of course, health and safety legislation were all examined in depth. The companies also explained what they saw as acceptable behaviour from visitors to their labs, factories and offices. Corporate input included constructive tips for teachers on how best to prepare students for visits, so the children could get the most out of a trip.
 
Guidelines you can really use
 
The outcome of months of painstaking research will be a simple document that shows both companies and schools how best to interact, whilst maintaining the highest level of mutual respect.
An important goal in drafting them has been to avoid lengthy, legalistic jargon and instead produce brief, no-nonsense guides including straightforward checklists, tailored to company representatives and teachers. And there will be no tiresome form-filling and other red tape involved at all.
 
A model for the future of STEM education
 
Once the guidelines have been published, they will be available online and it is hoped that they will evolve and stimulate discussion about the best ways for businesses to be involved in STEM education – and help ensure that schools and businesses working together are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Clearly, companies which adhere to the guidelines will be at a distinct advantage in attracting the participation of schools, in comparison to those that ignore them.

 

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