What is the Video Games Ambassadors scheme?

The Video Game Ambassadors scheme is a branch of STEMNET’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador scheme, and encourages games industry professionals to volunteer as role models to inspire young people to pursue a career in games.

Who runs the scheme?

The VGA scheme is in association with Ukie, the UK’s trade body for the interactive entertainment industry. The scheme is part of a bigger nationwide network operated by STEMNET who exist to increase young people’s choices and chances through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Who can I contact directly for more information?

For all questions regarding the Video Games Ambassadors Scheme, please get in touch with Sophie Densham, project lead at Ukie:

Email: sophie@ukie.org.uk

Twitter: @UkieSophie

And join the LinkedIn group.

Will I have the right skills to become a VGA?

The primary quality which all STEM Ambassadors, including VGAs, have is enthusiasm for working in the games industry and enthusing young people about these STEM and Arts subjects. You do not need to have any particular qualification and we welcome people with a wide variety of skills and professional backgrounds.

I have no experience of working in schools. Can I still take part?

Yes. A large number of new Ambassadors have not worked with young people before joining the programme. The induction session aims to make you feel confident about visiting a school for the first time, and includes some classroom-based scenario activities and role-play exercises. If you do feel particularly nervous about visiting a school on your own, your STEM Ambassadors Management Contract Holder would be happy to arrange for you to attend an event with a more experienced Ambassador.

Can I apply to volunteer at a specific school?

Yes. We aim to meet the needs of all schools in the UK, so the activities we broker reflect what schools happen to be looking for at a particular time (support for a class of high-achievers in maths, mentors for an engineering project during the summer term etc). You are welcome to work with a particular school in an ongoing way, but if this is through your own/your organisation’s contacts, you need to let your local STEM Ambassadors Management Contract Holder know.

How much planning and preparation will I have to do for an activity?

This depends entirely on which activity you decide to support. There are a huge number of ways in which Ambassadors can support schools: judging competitions; providing e-mentor careers support; giving “day-in-the-life-of” talks; explaining research techniques; advising on CV writing, interview technique or work skills; supporting clubs etc. If you are giving a talk about your work, most schools will ask you to prepare a simple presentation including any pictures or visual aids you might have. It is up to you as the Ambassador to make plans about the visit in advance with the responsible teacher once the STEM Ambassadors Management Contract Holder or Ukie have put you in touch.

Can I apply for a specific activity?

The range of STEM activities you can get involved in is extremely broad, and Ukie and your local STEM Ambassadors Management Contract Holder will circulate regular updates about events in your area. It is completely up to you what you choose to get involved with; our only requirement is that all Ambassadors take part in a minimum of one activity a year. Equally, you are very welcome to pursue your own school links or take part in activities through your company and/or professional institution under the banner of the STEM Ambassadors programme.

What kind of Video Games Ambassador activities are on offer?

There is a wide variety of activities that VGAs can get involved in and your local STEM Ambassador Management Contract Holder will send regular updates to you.

What support is available to me?

Your STEM Ambassadors Management Contract Holder is your main point of contact, and they will provide you with support and guidance during your time as an Ambassador, e.g. activity worksheets, brokering contact with a particular school you would like to work with etc.

What is the process from application to activity?

After you and the STEM Ambassadors Management Contract Holder have both received a copy of your, Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Disclosure and the Contract Holder is happy with it, you will be sent a STEM Ambassador ID card, a badge, and also a STEM Ambassadors wallet in which you can store your ID card and your DBS Disclosure. We recommend that you carry the wallet (with your STEM Ambassador ID card and your DBS Disclosure enclosed) with you when visiting schools to take part in STEM Ambassador activities. You will also receive logon details for the website so you can access your own activity records. You are then free to begin volunteering for activities.

How long does the application process take?

The first step is to complete an online application at,

https://db.stemnet.org.uk/register/ambassador

You will then receive an email from your local STEM Ambassadors Management Contract Holder offering you a range of induction dates (a 2-3 hour session to familiarise you with the programme and provide tips about working effectively with young people). Prior to your induction you will be asked to complete an online Enhanced DBS Disclosure application (a requirement for joining the programme). Once the application is submitted, you will receive an Enhanced DBS Disclosure within 4-6 weeks. You need to complete this process before you can begin to volunteer in schools with STEMNET.

I have a disability. Can I still volunteer as a VGA?

Of course! School volunteering opportunities are offered to all Ambassadors via regular regional newsletters, so you are free to choose the activities which suit you best.

I’m retired. Can I still volunteer as a VGA?

Yes, there is no upper age limit for being a VGA. Enthusiasm is the main quality we look for! We have many retired Ambassadors working with schools through the programme and they are a key support.

Why do I need a DBS/PVG (Scotland) check?

The STEM Ambassadors Programme is nationally co-ordinated by STEMNET and locally managed by STEMNET authorised sub-regional Contract Holders. With over 26,000 volunteers it is important that we have a robust recruitment process. Part of this process requires all new STEM Ambassador registrants to complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau) check. On receipt of an acceptable DBS Certificate the STEMNET authorised sub-regional Contract Holder will confirm approval as a STEM Ambassador and provide you with a STEM Ambassador ID card, badge and wallet to keep your DBS Certificate and ID card safe. Many schools do not accept visitors without the appropriate police checks. The fact that these checks are a mandatory requirement for all STEM Ambassadors is useful for teachers when they organise visits.

I already have a DBS/CRB check; why do I need another one?

STEMNET is a Registered Body with DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service). All STEM Ambassadors are required to have an acceptable current Enhanced Disclosure Certificate for volunteering in a Child Workforce. If your current Enhanced Disclosure Certificate was issued prior to 17th June 2013 then you will be required to apply for a new Enhanced Disclosure Certificate and this can be done using STEMNET’s online e-bulk application process. If you have an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate issued after 17 June 2013 and you have registered on the DBS Update Service, STEMNET, with your consent, will be able to carry out a Status Check to verify that the Certificate is still current. Please contact your local STEMNET sub-regional Contract Holder for a copy of the “STEMNET DBS Update Service FAQs for STEM Ambassadors” for detailed information.

For Scotland – Disclosure Scotland

In February 2011, the Scottish Government introduced a new membership scheme to replace and improve upon the current Enhanced Disclosure arrangements for people who work (volunteer) with vulnerable groups (children/adults) in Scotland.

The PVG Scheme is administered by Disclosure Scotland and allows STEMNET to satisfy itself that individual STEM Ambassadors are not barred from undertaking a regulated activity with children. The PVG Scheme provides Enhanced Disclosure records for this purpose. PVG Scheme members are continually monitored for new vetting information and any information which comes to light to indicate that they may be unsuitable to carry out regulated activities will lead to a consideration for listing.