Schools involved in STIMULUS are sent details and a password to enable them to log in and request placements. Participation is restricted to those schools within easy reach of Cambridge University.
If you haven't received your login details, please contact the STIMULUS Co-ordinator, Jacqui Watkins.
Schools outside the immediate area might like to look at our page of links to other projects, which may be more appropriate. For any one-off events, they are welcome to e-mail the coordinator, who may be able to circulate a particular request for help.
More information about the project
- About the volunteers
- Ways to use the volunteers
- Advice on making best use of the volunteers
- Important Child Protection Information
- Quotes from teachers and volunteers
About the volunteers
The volunteers are Cambridge University students, studying maths and science related subjects. They are all in at least their second term at university. Some have experience of working with children and young people; others don't. They are all interested in sharing their enthusiasm and expertise with pupils in local schools, and have made a commitment to giving up time each week to do this.
All volunteers apply for a DBS check, if they do not already have a DBS certificate. Unfortunately this may not come through until later in the term for first-time volunteers, in which case they should not be alone with pupils.
Before they go into schools, the volunteers will attend an orientation meeting. They will be given details of their placement, and will be given some guidelines on their role. Some experienced volunteers will share their perspective, and there will be ample opportunity for them to ask questions.
At half-term, which usually comes after just one or two school visits, a training session is held. An experienced teacher or teacher-trainer will lead this, giving useful advice on helping pupils effectively. Again, there is an opportunity for individual questions to be answered and support offered.
The volunteers are asked to contact the school office if they are unable to attend for any reason. Occasionally their timetables change, and unfortunately the placement may have to be discontinued.
The coordinator is always available by e-mail to both teachers and volunteers, particularly where there is any problem with the placement. She is a teacher and has had Stimulus students in her classes so knows what it is like.
Ways to use the volunteers
In many cases, the volunteers provide general classroom help, either working with a specified small group within the classroom, or floating and helping where seems appropriate. Sometimes volunteers are given a more specific role, particularly if they return for a second term to the same school.
- Carrying out a practical tasks with pairs or groups of pupils in turns.
- Working with pupil(s) whose English is weak.
- Taking out a small group of able pupils to work on extension topics.
- Taking out a small group of easily-distracted pupils.
- Going over a test or topic with pupils who have struggled.
If taking a group out of the room, it can be useful if this is to a communal area, such as a library or support base, so that other staff are around.
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Advice on making best use of the volunteers
- Download the printable booklet: Making the Most of your STIMULUS Volunteer
- Make sure the office are expecting them and know where to send them.
- Introduce them to the class; first names are usually used.
- Tell them where you'd like them to sit/stand during any teacher-led part of the lesson.
- It may not be possible to talk before the first lesson, but do talk to them as soon as you can about how you would like them to work.
- If possible, let them know in advance what the class will be doing. E-mail is useful if you don't know a week in advance; ask them to e-mail you if you think you'll forget to e-mail them!
- Plan to use the volunteer; plan activities where their presence will be helpful and there will be plenty for them to do.
- Indicate if there are particular individuals you would like them to work with. If they are floating, some will be good at taking the initiative; others may need a little direction.
- If asking them to work on extension topics, check that they are confident to do this, and lend them appropriate materials. Some will be happy to prepare themselves; others may need to be told what you would like them to do.
- Let them know in advance if the class will be on a trip, doing a test, or off-timetable for any reason. It is very frustrating to make the journey and find no lesson.
- If you are going to be absent, ensure that the cover teacher knows the volunteer's role, and if possible warn the volunteer.
Important Child Protection Information
Please download and read the following three documents:
Quotes from teachers and volunteers
- It enabled me to work with students who were struggling whilst Andrew used his excellent skills in Access and Excel to work with and stretch the more able.
- The STIMULUS programme is a real help to us as it enables a small group of able students in a year to be inspired and stretched.
- Increased opportunities for small group work; opportunities for pupils to meet good role models.
- Specialist knowledge particularly valuable for year 6 (who have a non-scientist as class teacher!)
- [Secondary maths] The staff were grateful for my help, as there is no way in which one teacher can provide each child with attention they needed to answer their problems. It felt good to be doing something genuinely useful.
- [Secondary science] I think I was able to help most by explaining the point of the practicals they were doing - it's surprising how often they can miss that bit.
- [Primary] I took a small group for a science lesson on gravity, weight and mass. The teacher gave me a copy of the schemes of work and gave me an open brief - I planned the lesson, an experiment, made worksheets, and thoroughly enjoyed it!