Speakers for Schools

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for Schools, Colleges & Academies

All state-maintained secondary schools, colleges & academies in the UK are eligible to apply for a speaker. We will get in touch as soon as a speaker is able to commit to speaking at your school. Please note we prioritise under-served, higher-need schools in our network and aim to reach students with the least access to outside speakers so we hugely encourage these schools to apply. PRU and some SEN schools are eligible to apply but be sure to let us know the type of talk your school is looking for, so we can ensure we are able to provide the right speaker for your students.

Unfortunately, we do not serve schools, academies or colleges outside of this remit, such as fee-paying institutions, due to our limited capacity and focus on supporting young people in the state sector.

If you are a primary school interested in bringing speakers in, please see our sister charity’s programme Primary Futures.

When you apply to Speakers for Schools you are submitting an application on behalf of your institution to become a part of our national school network for the opportunity to host any illustrious figure from our network year-on-year.

To apply, SLT and staff in charge of whole-year or school events submit an application online. We might be in touch at any point about a potential speaker so email contact is crucial, and you can update your application online or by contacting us.  In addition to broad topics of interest, the applicant also provides a ‘teacher’s statement’ explaining more about why they are applying and the preferred talk message to help the charity determine which speakers might be a fit for your school or students.

To help us offer you the best support, please review these FAQs and How it Works before submitting an application on behalf of your school or college here.

No. Thanks to our speakers who are donating their time and travel, all of our talks are completely free, and there are no charges to our schools, academies or colleges.

Given the nature of the speakers we work with, especially as a charity, the headteacher/senior leadership team will need to help with off-timetable arrangements and should greet the speaker on the day, but a deputy staff member can assist with coordinating the logistics in the lead up. We also encourage calling our offices at any point in the process to find out more about hosting or what speakers will expect.

For more about requirements for planning a Speakers for Schools event see our guides on how to Plan a talk.

Themes and formats should be agreed with speakers in advance of the talk. They are bespoke and depend on the individual speaker, but fall into broader themes which can be seen here. Most speakers provide unique insights as successful figures in their field to help inform and encourage students, while others can be more specialised.

Talks should be one hour long with a large student audience (assembly style), followed by a Q&A. Exact formats are to be agreed with speakers and can be seen here. Key requirements of a SFS talk include:

  • The session should be moderated by a member of SLT
  • It should include a quick introduction about the speaker, mentioning the focus of the talk and encouraging students to think of questions ahead of the Q&A
  • Be sure to offer your speaker a tour of the school or meet and greet with your headteacher as part of the visit.

You can see our ‘On the Day Hosting Tips’ here.

Please look out for our emails! We arrange talks throughout the academic year so these can arrive at any time. This is key to working with the charity. Applicants receive a special notification email once we believe we have an available speaker. We ask that you send us a response confirming your interest as soon as possible. It’s important to act quickly when you hear from us, as any delay in responding may result in your school/academy/college missing out, as speakers often have busy diaries and receive a high volume of requests.

To ensure that you do not miss an opportunity please be sure to ask your IT team to add the @speakersforschools.org domain to your safe senders list and check junk folders regularly.

Please note, we keep your application open year on year unless told otherwise and you can always update your application or get in touch.

Our participation cycle is an on-going intensive process that takes place throughout the academic year and after considering your application and speaker requirements we will get in touch as soon as a speaker is available. From there, speakers and schools are put in touch to directly confirm timings, audience and the format for their event.

When pairing speakers with school applications we take several factors into consideration, including:

  • School, academy or college application and teacher statement
  • Speaker topics and suitability
  • Speaker availability and location
  • School, academy or college frequency of hosting free talks

Please note we prioritise under-served schools in high-need locations and aim to reach students with the least access to outside speakers.

Currently the charity has a very high volume of requests that exceeds our speaker availability although we endeavour to arrange at least one talk per year for those in our school network. Your application is kept open year on year, unless you ask us to remove it.

Please note we prioritise under-served schools in high-need locations and aim to reach students with the least access to outside speakers.

See above about keeping your contact details up to date and being responsive so you don’t miss out.

No. We appreciate careers education and special careers days are hugely important for students in preparing for their future, and awards evenings are a key part of the school year and as much as we would like to cater to all requests, these events fall outside of our remit. Our speakers expect to offer a high-level engaging talk to a large student cohort to broaden horizons.

The expectations of a SFS talk include:

  • Assembly style talk with large student audience
  • One-hour session with plenty of student engagement and Q&A
  • Event to be hosted and moderated by a member of SLT
  • Further information about talk themes and formats can be seen here.

Unfortunately not. We do not have control over speakers’ busy diaries for pre-set events and we cannot guarantee that speakers will be in a given area or have availability on the dates requested. Our participation cycle is an on-going intensive process that takes place throughout the academic year and after considering your application and speaker requirements, we will get in touch as soon as a speaker is available.

Our speakers are not DBS checked as they are guests hosted by teachers at the school and should not to be left alone by teachers unsupervised with students. Their visit should be treated within school guidelines for visitors to the school.

In addition to speakers, being a part of the SFS national school network means access to our partners and hearing about great opportunities with like-minded organisations. We want to ensure you are in the know about other activities, events and resources your school can take advantage of to support your students. These include:

  • A termly newsletter that highlights like-minded organisations offering free activities, events or resources
  • Our Resource Hub which lists related careers programmes, curriculum materials and subject-specific tools for our schools to use.
  • We have also now launched our Experience programme – our new portal advertising exclusive work experience and employer opportunities for the students who need it the most. Register your interest so we can notify you when we expand to your location.

Be sure to look out for our emails and also follow us on Twitter to find out first about special opportunities!

If your question isn’t answered here or on our Schools & Colleges page, please use the Contact Us form.

We have launched Virtual Talks (VTALKS) alongside on-site talks, as a way for speakers to engage with schools remotely via video link (Skype, Hangout, Zoom etc). This service is free to use (if using a free online platform) and suitable for any audience size.

FAQs for Speakers

Our charity focuses on giving state schools, academies and colleges access to the UK’s eminent, reputable figures from a range of industries – and to make it easier for these figures to give their time to young people. They are key, prominent individuals leading society or industry today, from technology to arts to business, who are often invited directly or by a major industry body that works with our charity (e.g. BAFTA, 30% Club, Creative Industries Federation and more).

For more information about our speaker network and taking part, please see Our Speakers.

If you are interested in giving school talks but your background falls outside of this or if you are a different type of speaker, be sure to see our sister charity InspiringtheFuture.org and our Resources Hub which lists related organisations looking for other types of volunteer speakers.

SFS talks are meant to be inspirational events that allow speakers to share their unique insights and advice with students as someone leading in their industry or discipline, to help broaden horizons and encourage students in their potential. They are also a chance for a real conversation with figures who are shaping the world today – ranging from real stories of how a speaker got to where they are, to how their industry is changing society as we know it.

These are usually 1 hour assembly-style events, with a chance for a Q&A session to encourage an interactive, conversational event.

For more information, see our speaker guides for specific formats, planning steps and suggested talk themes.

As a part of supporting our work, our speakers donate their time and travel. Since speaker circumstances vary the S4S team endeavours to make the talk fit in with existing travel plans as needed, but will still advise on locations and schools that will be the best use of time for all involved. We can work creatively to make this fit even for the busiest of diaries (i.e. a Friday before a holiday in the South West, or between meetings at a Newcastle office, or en route between London and an event in another city).

S4S talks are meant to be inspirational events that allow speakers to share their unique insights and advice with students as someone leading in their industry or discipline, to help broaden horizons and encourage students in their potential. They are also a chance for a real conversation with figures who are shaping the world today – ranging from real stories of how a speaker got to where they are, to how their industry is changing society as we know it.

These are usually 1 hour assembly-style events, with a chance for a Q&A session to encourage an interactive, conversational event.

For more information, see our speaker guides for specific formats, planning steps and suggested talk themes.

All state-maintained secondary schools, academies and colleges in the UK are eligible to apply to Speakers for Schools.

Once a speaker becomes available, the Speakers for Schools team will shortlist school applications based on their overall suitability and then confirm our recommendation with the speaker’s office. This initial pairing is based on the speaker’s geographic preferences and date availability. Please note, we prioritise under-served schools in high-need locations and aim to reach students with the least access to outside speakers.

Once a talk is agreed, speakers and schools are introduced to one another to discuss timings, audience and the format for their event. More about planning can be seen here.

Schools are not able to make direct requests for individual speakers but instead provide us with preferred topics/industries. We do not share speaker contact information until both parties have agreed to an event.

Once a speaker has been introduced to a school, it is a requirement that the speaker (or their office) have a phone call with the school to agree the format of the talk, the key messages and takeaways for students, and to finalise the logistics of the visit.

Our speaker guides will help you craft your talk and outline the format and themes we recommend to ensure your talk has the desired impact on students.

Our team is also on-hand to assist should you have any questions. You can contact us at: team@speakersforschools.org.

DBS checks are not required as the speaker will not have unsupported or unsupervised access to students. Schools and colleges have their own processes for vetting external speakers and expect these to be used when hosting Speakers for Schools talks. School staff are required to be at the talk and overseeing every stage of the visit. However for other activities that might come out of the talk (such as mentoring) a check may be required – for more about this visit the GOV.UK website.

Please contact the team directly on team@speakersforschools.org to let us know about any changes or updates to titles, biographies etc or if you have had a change in circumstance. Importantly, as we work with schools and children, speakers must notify us as soon as possible if there is any reason to pause participation due to circumstances that might create reputational or safeguarding concerns that need to be addressed. These will be treated confidentially but speakers are responsible for alerting our charity to any such circumstances.

Our engagement team manages speakers’ work with the charity and we encourage you/your office to get in touch at any time if you have questions about how we work, preparing or support in arranging your talk.

Please email any questions to team@speakersforschools.org

We have launched Virtual Talks (VTALKS) alongside on-site talks, as a way for speakers to engage with schools remotely via video link (Skype, Hangout, Zoom etc). This service is free to use (if using a free online platform) and suitable for any audience size.