Benefits of volunteering in schools? Why aspiring teachers like me recommend it

by Milly Woodward
August 2022

Milly writes about the benefits of volunteering in schools

Benefits of volunteering in schools are numerous, whether or not you’re thinking of one day working in education.

If you’re reading this then you are, probably, planning on one day going into teaching. That was me, too, before I volunteered in schools with Just Like Us.

You may also be wondering how volunteering with Just Like Us could help you in one day going into teaching. Short answer: yes, I think it really can.

To get the obvious out of the way quickly, pretty much all voluntary work is going to look good to nearly all employers. It has the same commitment and responsibility as getting a job would, so it looks good on your CV.

Volunteering on Just Like Us’ Ambassador Programme is particularly good for aspiring teachers. And that’s for one key reason: the school visits.

Benefits of volunteering in schools

Firstly, as you might have guessed, visiting schools means you’ll get a lot of experience talking in front of a classroom. And when I say a lot, I mean it.

Pupils at a secondary school
Benefits of volunteering in schools are numerous

If you aim for three school talks in an academic year, you can spend from one hour to three hours in the classroom, delivering talks between 20 minutes and 1 hour. That’s a decent chunk of time and there’s actually no limit on the number of talks you do with Just Like Us.

Within that time, you’ll get different types of experience, too. There’s the structured talk, complete with a PowerPoint, which you’ll get plenty of time to practice. And then there’s also the free Q&A section.

You’ll be coached on answering questions in ambassador training, but you’ll still have to answer those questions on the fly. It’s perfect preparation for unexpected questions from your students.

Secondly, volunteering with Just Like Us means you’ll learn to tailor content according to age. The charity’s volunteer ambassadors deliver school talks to both key stage 3 and 4.

So, you’ll have to talk to eleven year olds and well as eighteen-year-olds in ways appropriate and relatable to their age. The pre-prepared slides will cover making the main content age-appropriate, so you’ll have a good example to work from.

All of this experience will help you adjust to speaking to students of different age groups. It’ll also be a great way of preparing to respond to off-the-cuff questions.

Primary schools vs secondary schools

If you’re keen to go into primary teaching like, you might wonder how this applies if you’ll be speaking to secondary students? Well, learning to adjust content is a transferable skill.

As long as you’re aware of vocabulary and understanding levels of the age group, you’ll be able to tailor the content. Speaking in schools will give you lots of practice.

Volunteering in different types of schools

Volunteering as an ambassador means you’ll learn to adjust content to different types of schools.

In the same way you’ll alter your PowerPoints, stories, and answers for age, you’ll alter them for faith schools, single-sex schools, SEN students, and any other school you might visit.

So, for example, if you were going into a Church of England school, you might choose some public figures who are Christian and LGBT+ to discuss as role models.

Pupils chatting at school
You’ll also volunteer in different types of schools

Experience in different types of schools can only be a good thing when preparing to become a teacher.

Now, if you’ve read through this entire article only to remember that you don’t want to be a teacher, don’t worry.

The benefits of volunteering in schools with Just Like Us are for everyone, not just aspiring teachers.

Benefits of volunteers in schools aren’t just for a career in teaching

Ambassadors deliver school talks in groups of two or three. That means, you’re about to get a crash course in group work.

Obviously, that’s incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to work in an office or working with people in general.

It’s also good experience for people going into university courses delivered through seminars and/or group assignments.

But it’s also just good fun! You meet new people, make friends, and hear new stories with every talk you give.

Speaking to young people

Before I volunteered with Just Like Us, I wasn’t so confident speaking in front of an audience.

Speaking to young people in schools is amazing practice. The school staff have always been incredibly welcoming and, in personal experience, highly encouraging.

And I guarantee no one will mind if you trip over a few words! So if you’re looking for a low-pressure environment to gain some experience, consider volunteering with them.

One of our volunteer ambassadors giving a Just Like Us school talk
One of our volunteer ambassadors giving a Just Like Us school talk

Finally, as an LGBT+ person, volunteering with Just Like Us means you’ll get a ton of education on different parts of the community.

Whether learning about different sexual orientations, gender identities or intersectionality, you’ll gain so much.

Preparing for school talks – through the training and practices – will make sure you’re familiar with the definitions of lots of identities. And working with other LGBT+ people means you can ask (polite!) questions.

So if you’re pretty confident defining your own sexuality, but you’re a bit confused about the meaning of others, consider giving the Ambassador Programme a go.

Volunteer in schools with Just Like Us

Just Like Us is looking for LGBT+ 18 to 25 year olds to volunteer to speak in schools on our Ambassador Programme.