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School resources

Working with universities


Universities provide a wealth of resources and talent which can help enrich your curricular or extra-curricular activity. They can help you in many ways for example:

  • Providing role models to help mentor and support pupils
  • Developing workshops and activities to help inspire young people to go on to university
  • Bring cutting-edge research into the classroom

This guide provides advice and guidance to staff in schools who might be considering working with Universities and research institutions. It focuses on partnerships that you might form around research and working with researchers, but also provides examples of the numerous ways in which schools and universities can work together, and aims to address some of the common barriers to working with universities.

We also point you towards key activity and contacts at University of Exeter.

Universities are typically driven by three key agendas:

  • Research: This includes the generation of new knowledge. At Exeter University we are leaders in Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine Research and have a World-Class reputation in the humanities. Our research is assessed through the Research Excellence Framework, which provides a stipulation for our work to have impact on society.

  • Teaching and Learning: This includes the education of undergraduates, masters and postgraduate students. Universities are concerned not only with academic grades, but the student experience, and employability. Success in these areas are measured through implements such as the National Student Survey, Graduate Destination Survey and Teaching Excellence Framework.

  • Societal, Civic and Economic Impact: Through their activities Universities generate significant impacts on society and the economy. The generation of these impacts is often supported by teams of professional staff working across procurement, human resources, knowledge exchange and engagement.

The types of activity on offer vary from established programmes to one-off activities.

For example:

  • Academic Colleges run a range of activities for students of various ages throughout the year. These activities give students the chance to find out more about different subject areas, some of which they may have not had the chance to study before. They include things like business mentoring, subject specific talks, workshops and masterclasses. Find out more.

  • Our Student Recruitment Team run a large number of programmes including progression projects for bright young people from under-represented groups in higher education, to residential, school and campus visits. See their webpages for an up to date list.

  • Students’ Guild supports a host of student volunteering projects, run for pupils at schools of various ages to help them academically, pastorally and to help build their confidence. There are projects working with pupils preparing for GCSEs, pupils for whom English is a second language, and much more. More information can be found on the Guild website.

  • The Graduate School of Education offers a wide range of professional development courses and research programmes, alongside the delivery of Initial Teacher Training.

There are a number of projects that are more directly linked to our research. These could range from inspirational talks by researchers about their cutting edge research, workshops right through to programmes where young people actually work as researchers side by side with our researchers.

Examples include, Tour de Maths a project that involved researchers from the University and school teachers to inspire young people about the real life applications of mathematics. Or the Monsters Workshop, an innovative activity designed for 6th Form Students to help them explore their potential for growth and overcome their fears.

See our example case studies for more information on these.

Case Study - Resource

This video provides a really inspiring introduction to why you might like to work with a researcher on a school’s project. It focuses on Silvia Berretta’s research into high temperature laser printing and how this can be used to make artificial bones. Silvia was one of the researchers who visited schools and shared her research with teachers and young people.


Universities can sometimes be complex places to navigate and who you contact will depend on what you need. We have pulled together some key people who will be able to help you.

  • If you would like to book a campus visit, or work with us on activities designed to raise aspirations of young people and help them think about whether University is for the them, then the best place to start is the Student Recruitment Office. Contact details are kept up to date here.

  • If you would like to work directly with researchers and bring their knowledge into the classroom to inspire young people, contact our Public Engagement Manager via the research services web pages.

  • If you would like to develop links around professional development and Initial Teacher Training the best place to start is the Partnership Office at the Graduate School of Education.

  • If you would like to make direct contact with passionate students either to offer a volunteering place or work with one of our many clubs and societies, contact the Activities and Volunteering Team at the Student’s Guild

  • The department of Innovation, Impact and Business (IIB) supports our internal academic community and external businesses, government bodies and other external organisations.  The Education theme lead is Dr Bridget Sealey.

When to work together?

We’ve developed a Calendar tool which identifies the key pressure points throughout the year for both Schools and Universities. Although not a definite indicator of when to work together, it provides a useful insight to the working cycles of both organisations and can be helpful to think through when to plan interventions.

How to work together?

Each project will have its own needs and its own ways of working, however to support the joint focused planning of school-university partnership activities we have developed this  planning resource which can be used in an initial planning meeting with a school and university representative. It will help you capture all the important information such as what the purpose of the activity is, key contacts involved, how will it be publicised and what will the costs be to both University and School.

You may also like to agree a memorandum of understanding which articulates clearly the responsibilities of both partners. See our example one here.