Don’t try to manage your STEM Club without involving others.
Recruit people to be part of the STEM Club team. Teaching staff in other STEM subjects might be the obvious choice, but schools are full of people with relevant interests and skills – technicians, teaching assistants and support staff included.
Working in a STEM Club team helps you share club leader responsibilities, having others taking on even a small task on a regular basis will make a difference. It also helps ensure continuity should a club leader leave the school, and it provides a source of creative ideas and the direction for your club.
You will need technical support if your club is based around practical activity. If there’s no technician directly involved with the day-to-day running of the club, at the very least you will need some degree of technician co-operation, so make sure they are engaged from the outset. Some technicians have become highly engaged in their clubs and are part of the club leader team. Ask your technician if they want to be included on any STEM Club mailing lists to make sure they are fully up to date with the STEM Clubs programme.
Club leader responsibilities may include:
- Making sure an appropriate programme is planned
- Ensuring kit/ space is available
- Risk assessments and child protection
- Providing new ideas for the club
- Budgeting and other financial considerations
- Attending relevant CPD
- Reporting to and liaising with key partners
In addition to Club Leaders, you might want to consider involving mentors in your club. Mentors are trusted people to whom the STEM Club leaders can allocate tasks related to running the club. They could be reliable sixth formers or other older students, or other volunteers.
Mentors can help run the club by:
- Giving expert advice to students
- Help with preparation and clearing up
- Organising specialist activities
- Updating the website
- Keeping a log of activities
- Club promotion and advertising
- Maintaining membership records
Invest in your supporters. Supporters are people who aren’t directly involved with the club but who are necessary for the club’s continuing success. They can include those within and outside of the school, such as senior leadership team, school governors, parents, and other members of staff.
Supporters can help ensure the club maintains a profile both within and outside of the school. They can:
- Help champion the club internally
- Source potential volunteers
- Provide ideas / resources for activities
- Highlight funding opportunities
- Provide external recognition for the work the club does
You may want to get people from outside the school to be involved. Those from local industry and academia may bring their expertise and experience to the club. Parents, governors and feeder Primary schools may also be interested in being involved – ask around and you might be surprised at the interest and expertise out there.
Outside speakers and STEM Ambassadors provide a link between the STEM Club and STEM that happens outside the school. Good speakers have great potential to inspire and enthuse. You can request a STEM Ambassador here, or club members may have parents and friends employed in STEM who could contribute their expertise. You may want to consider including a parent questionnaire with your club member application form to find out who has a background in a STEM field.
Volunteers can come and help for a session or number of sessions. They may simply provide more hands to run an activity, or provide more specialist support, such as talk about a STEM subject or run an activity.
Volunteers might be motivated to help with your club for a range of reasons, such as an opportunity to influence the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians, the chance to work with children who enjoy STEM, gain experience in the STEM education sector, or just to have fun!
Whatever their motivations, volunteers can bring fresh ideas to your club, real-world experience and STEM expertise which can really enhance the club experience.
When involving volunteers it is important to:
- Make sure volunteers are happy with their level of commitment – check if they want more or less involvement with the club
- Let volunteers know the size and makeup of the club, they may need advice on working with groups of young people in informal settings
- Let them know what resources are available if they would like to run their own session
- Keep your volunteers informed about how the club is doing and your plans for the future
- Actively seek out advice, support, ideas and feedback from your volunteers
- Share risk assessments and other relevant health & safety information with them
- Make volunteers aware of any arrangements that are in place to facilitate inclusion of club members with special educational needs
- Avoid putting volunteers in awkward situations, e.g. leading an activity they’re not happy with
- It is advisable that all adult volunteers from outside the school are vetted with a DBS disclosure. All STEM Ambassadors will have one of these. Never leave volunteers alone with club members
- Thank them for their time