How it works

Speakers for Schools helps facilitate connections to much needed opportunities for state schools and colleges to host talks from leading figures from a wide range of backgrounds, free of charge. We especially maintain a network of speakers that are leaders, experts and influential individuals recognised by peers and institutions.

Our speakers all generously donate their time and expertise each year hoping to help provide students with invaluable insights, perspectives and interesting information to inspire them. Designed to go beyond a traditional careers talk, these events give students unique access to insights and advice from those individuals who are shaping a field which helps ‘demystify’ successful figures and their work, in the hopes to broaden students’ horizons for what they can achieve.

Below we have outlined how S4S works, what to expect and what is essential to taking part after you apply to be a part of the network.

For more about the specific format and planning a S4S event, please see Plan a Talk.

Eligibility

All UK secondary state schools and colleges across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply for a talk. To take part, a school/college (Headteacher, Deputy, selected coordinator) must submit a completed application on behalf of their institution. Applicants must understand the commitments outlined in the application form when applying for a talk.

Dan Snow speaks to students at Edenham High School

Matching Speakers and Schools

When pairing speakers and schools/colleges we consider the following:

  • School/college application and teacher statement
  • Speaker topics and general suitability
  • Speaker availability and location
  • Has a school/college had the chance to host a speaker yet/recently?

Our team works to see as many schools benefit from a talk as possible. This is an on-going process throughout the academic year and the charity will get in in touch as soon as a speaker is able to commit to speaking at the school– each speaker has different availability and constraints that we work with to help make their committment possible. As all of our speakers are leading figures with unique insights to offer, when there isn’t an exact ‘topic’ match (i.e. science) we might still suggest them as they still offer a great opportunity for a school or college. See more about the Speaker Themes that can be tailored between most any student group and speaker. 

Making the Connection

We will always tell you before putting you in touch with one another to arrange your talk. As every school/college has varying student cohorts, S4S facilitates a direct connection between speakers and schools/colleges to plan and agree to the finer details of the event.

Planning between Speaker and School

In addition to email communication it’s crucial there is at least one phone call between the school and the speaker/their office about the topic, proper context and any expectations for either part — it helps bring any potential issues out of the woodwork. This is invaluable in setting expectations and clarifying what students would benefit from most. We can help at this stage if there are any issues or trouble connecting!

School/College Preparation

For a S4S event, schools/colleges need to brief students ahead of the talk so they know who will be speaking and can be ready to take part in the Q&A. As this is an essential compxenent of our programme, we advise that a few questions are prepared to start the conversation, but more confident and conversational students might not require this. Speakers might request a briefing note about the student group and their interests so they can make it more personal. We have a useful guide for Student Prep here.

Speaker Preparation

As a result of a phone call with the school/college speakers should consider the content of their talk and ensure it is pitched at the right level for their audience. Particularly with lectures or certain industry heavy presentations, this might need to be highly contextualised so it resonates with students or approached differently. A guide with typical talk themes and helpful advice to tailor can be found here.

The talk itself

S4S talks are a unique chance for students to engage with a successful individual — comprised of a short talk (15-20 minutes) from the speaker followed by a Q&A with students (30-40 minutes).  As long as the talk makes the most of the students’ and speaker’s time by being a conversation between them, it’s fine to agree with the speaker more Q&A or find the format that will provoke the most interaction for your students.  The school/college should be on-hand to facilitate the event as students can sometimes be shy, and to make sure the event keeps to time as needed. To read about different event styles, please see our Case Studies.

 

Feedback

Speakers and schools are sent a quick webform to provide feedback on each talk experience. This is invaluable monitoring for the charity as it tells us what has worked or maybe where there was a miscommunication to prevent in future. It also helps us let speakers know their impact so they are encouraged to give their time each year.  You can see examples of the impact a talk can have through snippets of events and student interviews in our Video Library.