Arranging school experience independently

Whether you’re still studying or looking to fit school experience in around your work schedule, you can also arrange school experience independently. These tips on getting some time in the classroom should come in handy.

Find the right school

You may need to contact a number of different schools in your area to arrange your school experience. You can use the register for schools in England tool to filter by location and local authority to find a suitable school. 

It’s also worth contacting your old school as many schools are more receptive to requests from ex-students. You never know, some of your old teachers might even volunteer to show you around.

Daniel Wilkins, English teacher

Do your homework

Don’t just send enquiries off to generic contact email addresses. Telephone the school in question and ask who would be best to contact. This varies from one school to another – sometimes it will be a specific member of staff responsible for organising work experience, at others it could be a head of department.

Be flexible

Classroom experience may have to fit in around a school’s training placements, exams, and other activities. Schools might find it difficult to accommodate you if you only have fixed availability for a school visit.

Less is never more

The more time you spend getting experience in a school, the better. You can check different schools’ and universities’ requirements for school experience when you search for courses on the UCAS Teacher Training website.

A little networking goes a long way

Be creative in your search for opportunities.

I’ve organised work experience through friends’ parents who work in schools, and through coincidently chatting to a customer who happened to be a headteacher at my part-time job. I’ve even gained contacts through my hairdresser who has lots of teacher clients.

Danielle, trainee teacher

Ask your university

If you’re a student thinking about teaching, find out if there are any schemes led by your university. These can offer you the chance to gain some structured experience and school placements before you apply for teacher training. Depending on your degree, there may even be the option to complete a module that includes classroom experience at a local school.

Consider volunteering options

To improve your chances of gaining school experience, you could also offer to volunteer at a school. Volunteering in general is a great opportunity to gain experience of working with children. You could also volunteer to work in a youth club or as a Scout or Guide leader – particularly during summer when schools are closed.

Many volunteering opportunities, such as after-school clubs, sports coaching or youth schemes, take place during evenings or at weekends, so you can fit volunteering around your existing commitments.

Be patient and persevere

Schools are very busy places, so may not always reply immediately. They also have to be careful about welcoming visitors. Schools may require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check as a matter of policy – so don’t leave things until the last minute as these can take four weeks or more to complete.

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