These days, more and more of my colleagues in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education are warming to the idea of closer links with industry to show students what these subjects can do in the real world.
Several studies have shown that students and pupils often dismiss STEM careers on very flimsy evidence (not a good start in science!), so putting them into contact with working companies can be a great help in adjusting their point of view.
There are two broad ways that industry can bring STEM to life for students: businesses can visit you, or you can visit them. Both can be beneficial – but unfortunately, both can be a nightmare for schools and industry to carry out successfully. Whether it is protecting data, ensuring child safety or providing a worthwhile educational experience, there are so many potential problems that even the most enthusiastic teachers and companies may think twice about organising what could be a mutually beneficial encounter.
This is why the inGenious code for school–industry collaboration is such a useful document. Freely available as a PDF, the code covers pretty much every aspect of organising visits to schools by industry and vice versa. As its introduction states, the code “provides a set of principles, guidelines and checklists that should allow anyone involved in setting up school–industry collaboration to do so as safely, smoothly and securely as possible”.
At 24 pages long, it is comprehensive and tackles the general principles of collaboration, as well as dealing with consent, data protection and taking photos and videos – all of which need careful handling in order to stay within mutually acceptable limits.
Perhaps most useful of all are a series of easy-to-follow checklists, focused on organising site visits and managing data protection, which are available for download separately from the inGenious websitew1.
The code is freely available to download as a PDF from the European Schoolnet websitew2.