Help! I'm going to be a schools worker!

Posted on October 13, 2017 by Sophie Bacchus-Waterman
Categories: Primary, Secondary, 16-19s,

Thinking of starting schools work? Maybe you've just started? Or perhaps you need a refresher of what it's like for those just starting out, and can offer some advice... 


My name is Sophie, and I’m currently on the Graduate Volunteer Scheme at Youthscape. As part of my experience on that Scheme, I am going to be working in schools. And, as someone who hasn’t long since been a young person, I am pretty nervous about going into a school and expecting students to listen to what I have to say. Not only am I close enough to their age that I can remember how disengaged young people can be at school, but I also have no experience in the field of professional schools work!

So, of course, I have a lot of questions. Some of those are practical questions.

  • What are good resources for 1:1 mentoring?
  • What are the best ice breakers for mentoring a new group?

But some are more general.

  • How do you approach talking about faith in a classroom setting, if at all?
  • How many pop culture references can you put into an assembly before it sounds like you’re trying too hard?

I know that this blog is a place that attracts experienced youth workers, so I figured I could use this post to throw out my concerns, and hopefully get some advice for myself, and other schools workers to-be.

I’m pretty lucky, because I have already come across some advice. I don’t mean to plug our site here, but I will take the chance to say that I’ve found a lot of helpful articles on this site. SchoolsworkUK has done a great job gathering a range of schools worker’s opinions on different topics, and there are so many helpful articles on resources, tools for mentoring, and tips. It’s a very helpful site, and I’m sure I’ll use it when I am, officially, a schools worker. (P.S., this is not a paid promotion!)

And, on a less practical level, probably the most helpful piece of advice I’ve been given is this: No two schools workers are the same. Everyone will have their own way of delivering content, their own strengths, their own style when engaging with students. That probably sounds obvious, especially if you’ve been doing schools work for years, but the fact that there’s no “right” answer when preparing to start schools work, or even no “right” answer when it comes to delivering content in schools, is very reassuring.

But, like I said, I do have some practical questions, and, because this blog is visited by experienced schools workers, it would be great if we could pool that knowledge! So, if you have any advice, helpful tips, or anything you think a schools worker to-be should know before they start out, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. It would be a really big help to me, and probably other soon-to-be schools workers, to have a place where we can gather info from people more experienced in this field.

Are there any tips that you wish you’d had, before starting out?

  • Dan Desmond

    I've been trying for a few years to get into the classroom at the 4 schools I work in. I went from 3 or 4 lessons a half term, up to 18 this half term!

    I spent time with the teacher, asking if there was any way I could be assistance in RE, and we then went through the curriculum. I explained how I could help with certain topics, coming from a Christian perspective. I took on their advice too.

    They are trained teachers, and I am not. So I made sure I took their advice, but also brought about good, honest teaching from the Bible to fit with the subjects. As time went on, I was able to come in with my own ideas for the lesson and now I am booked on a regular basis. I also take extra lessons every so often, which are simply Q&A lessons.

    I also run some of my lesson plans past qualified teachers, to make sure it is at the standard a teacher would expect.

    I hope some of this is helpful. I spend a lot of time in schools, and for me, there's nothing else I would rather do!

    • Lahna Pottle

      Thanks Dan, this is super helpful - Lahna

  • Wayne Dixon

    Dan - this is a great read. Can I metion the excellent Youthscape resource. I have read it and is a very useful read. A current thought and something I learned a while back is that flexibility and relationships are 2 key parts of schools minisitry....

    • Lahna Pottle

      Hi Wayne, Do you mean the Third Space Ministry Book we recently created? https://youthscape.co.uk/store/product/third-space

      Lahna