Why work in partnership?

Partnership working with other individuals, organisations and local experts allows access to high level skills and real life opportunities for pupils. Anecdotal evidence from the UK courses suggest that these external opportunities are greatly enjoyed by the students and highly valued by staff. When planning your programme try to include a variety of settings, experts and experiences, if possible (see Activity Bank for some suggestions and Mapping Educational & Employment Partners).


It is important that the partners you work with understand your programme aims. It is also important that they have an appropriate level of understanding of pupils’ needs. Their attitudes and experience of working with young people with additional needs should also be considered (see Role Profile), especially if you plan to work with a partner on a long-term basis.


Table 1 summarises some of the key advantages and disadvantages we have found when working with expert partners

Pros of partnership working Cons of partnership working
Brings specialist subject expertise to your programme Time needed by school lead to research, contact and verify suitability of provider (see list of essential question/considerations below)


Broadens students’ experience Depending on length of student contact time planned with provider, time needed to ensure partner understands the systems, policies and expectations of the school (if working regularly within school grounds)**


Provides opportunities for pupils to interact with potential future employers and work alongside appropriate role models May have to pay for the time and experience


Helps students recognise the relevance and importance of their school education (… to their future careers) Clear line of communication must be established so that essential updates/information can be exchanged effectively


Allows the lead contact at school to observe how their students interact with and respond to different people, situations and activities, without the responsibility of session delivery*


website-eagles-session-5-15-10-2* The 10-session outdoor learning programme for the  Nurture students at Aylsham High School (see UK Case Study younger cohort) was delivered by a team of external outdoor learning specialists but designed and adapted in close collaboration with school staff. This allowed the lead teacher, Head of Nurture, to observe his students “in action” and actively evaluate the impacts and outcomes.

** Experience from Aylsham High School, UK, suggests that only using external providers to design and deliver a long-term outdoor learning programme within school grounds, with limited recourse to school staff, systems and policies, is unlikely to be as successful. Continuity, fairness and sense of security are highly important to cohorts of vulnerable young people  and any inconsistencies in behaviour management or expectations can make the transfer back to classroom learning confusing and difficult. The Partnership worked best when the lead came from the school.

Safe and effective partnership working

This section includes; Operating procedures, contractual agreements, risk assessments etc.  Also see the Activity Bank pages and downloads for detailed examples of programme opportunities, linked to specific safety and partnership considerations.


Your local area will be rich in potential partners and a useful starting point is to map them.  You will greatly enhance the opportunities and experience your programme will enable for young people by working in partnership for off-site visits, on-site activities and/or work experience, careers and enterprise related activities.

Useful key documents include:

The following list of resources/links/considerations may help you to ensure your partnerships are safe and effective. However, it is important to follow your own school/county/country guidance and the following list is just an aide memoir:

  • Review your own school policies (Work Experience, Educational Visits)
  • Consider qualifications/experience of staff and where there is a need for a DBS/police check
  • In the UK the Quality Badge can afford a level of external verification of quality for external providers
  • Look at providers own safeguarding policies & operating procedures. Work alongside your partners to ensure safe, high quality provision
  • Providers and partners must have appropriate insurance. It is best to obtain a copy and check that providers and partners offer the cover needed
  • Undertake a Risk-Benefit Analysis, you could do this together with your partners (who will not have the knowledge about individual students that you have)
  • Consider confidentiality  and the information partners/providers may need to know about the young people you are introducing them to
  • You may need to consider setting up a formal contract with a provider or partner – especially for longer term projects
  • How will you monitoring the effectiveness of the partnership? (Questions to consider)
  • How will you evaluate the impact on young people? (Questions to consider)
  • How will you agree on expectations – perhaps best done together  (Questions to consider)
  • There is excellent support in the UK from the Outdoor Education Advisors Panel National Guidance eg.  Visit Leader Checklist refer to section 3.3e
  • Model forms, checklists and mind maps eg. Provider Questionnaire refer to section 8p
  • Norfolk Schools can access support systems for offsite visits that include electronic approval systems eg. Evolve Norfolk
  • Remember that much can be undertaken on or very close to your own site – with qualified and experienced partners/providers eg. Adventurous Activities; links with expert naturalists; bushcraft opportunities.  The more you explore, the more you appreciate the opportunities on your doorstep