Call in the experts

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Many organisations are only too willing to come into school and pass on specialist knowledge, reports Christine Green

Talks from experts in their field have much to offer schools. They give students an external viewpoint, specialist knowledge, a wealth of hands-on experience and awareness of issues and concerns that are part of everyday life.

Many government departments, charities and organisations have staff whose job involves liaising with and visiting schools. The police and fire service are two prime examples. Often, they have also put together resource material and information in line with the national curriculum.

Below are just some of the other organisations that will come into schools.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is one of the most famous charitable and religious organisations in the UK. Christine Clement, its schools and college information officer, says the number of schools asking for speakers has increased since the introduction of the national curriculum.

"Key stage 2 pupils often want to learn about the life and times of William Booth, while homelessness and its effects is popular with secondary pupils. Speakers have also covered issues such as alcohol and drug abuse."

Length of talk Varies but usually extends to the length of a lesson.

Resource material Overhead transparencies, a lesson plan and various supplementary materials.

Fee None.

Nationwide service Eighteen regional offices each with a public relations director, and a few regional centres with staff delegated to work with schools.

For further information contact: Christine Clement. Tel: 020 7367 4706;www.salvationarmy.org.ukschools

Metropolitan Police

Personal safety and drug awareness are two of the main topics for Metropolitan Police officers. A spokesman, Inspector Mick Morris, says officers come in as "guest experts" in schools, adding value to school-led programmes.

Officers can help schools set up bullying or discipline policies, and give talks to teachers, parents and governors as well as children. Sessions are often agreed at the start of each academic year to fit in with PSHE or citizenship.

Length of talk Usually 30-60 mins.

Resource material Videos and activity sheets, but most officers prefer to rely on pupils' reaction.

Fee None.

Nationwide service Varies.

For details of school liaison in your area contact your local police commander

Unicef

The world's largest organisation working for children has more than 11 years' experience helping schools with development issues and introducing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Spokesperson Sarah Randall says its education team and trained volunteers are happy to visit schools and give assembly talks, hold class workshops and give talks to groups or organisations, "and we offer in-service training sessions on citizenship for teachers".

Length of talk Varies.

Resource material Some free, and a resource catalogue which teachers can purchase.

Fee None.

Nationwide service Available throughout England, Wales and Scotland.

For further information contact Rowland Eno, education team manager. Tel: 020 7312 7640www.unicef.org.uk

Others organisations willing to provide a speaker include: l Universities with schools' liaison officers who may be able to arrange a visit on a certain topics.

* Samaritans. Tel: 0175 321 6500.l Outward Bound Trust. Tel: 0870 513 4227; www.outwardbound-uk.org * Shelter. Tel: 020 7505 2000; www.shelter.org.uk * Christian Aid. Tel: 0202 7620 4444; www.Christian-aid.org.uk * Health Development Agency. www.hea.org.uk * Oxfam. www.oxfam.org.uk

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