Your first and most important responsibility when working with schools is to work within their policies. This probably includes:
If you are working with students outside the school, your group should be an incorporated body with your State government and hold the insurance required by your State's incorporation regulations.
Before outdoor work starts do an OH&S audit of the site.
You are responsible to make sure the site is safe. If there is the potential for dangerous litter someone will need to check and clean the area the morning before students arrive.
If students are to be outdoors at a site for a long period, access to toilet facilities will be required.
People working with students must be good role models. This includes wearing a hat, proper shoes, shirts with sleeves etc when working outdoors.
It is strongly suggested that people in your group only work with students when a teacher is present (formal work experience programs might be an exception).
Over the years I have found that when I contact a school and ask if I can help them I receive almost no replies. However when I ask a school for help I am almost always successful. Your success rate may not be as high as mine, but seeking help seems to be the way to go.
You will find it is easier for primary schools to work with you than secondary schools. Often secondary schools are locked into subjects. Choose to contact schools closest to the projects you are doing. It is important that students see the projects first hand and walking to the site reduces many complications.
Next step is to identify one or more projects you think a school can help you with. The school will need to be sure that they will not be out of pocket. They are not likely to be concerned about art materials, but will be about any new costs.
Contact the school and ask for an appointment to see the Principal or a teacher who is a school environmental leader. They will only need at most a five minute overview of what your group does and what you would like help with.
In the Principal's or teacher's mind two calculations will be made in the first two minutes:
Some schools' curricula are organised two years in advance and sneaking something new in can be difficult. Other schools will become flexible when they don't want to miss the chance of doing something exciting with their kids. (If genetically there is such a thing as a goodwill gene then teachers have a double dose. I am constantly amazed at what teachers will do for their students.)
Don't be surprised or disappointed if you are told that they would love to do the project with you in four months time. It will take most schools that long to slot you in.
You will need to find out what rules will apply to people in your group working with students. Each State government has put in place policies to keep children safe. Your local schools will have a number of formalities that all outside people must comply with when entering schools and working with children.
If you are working closely with a class, there may also be rules about emails and other forms of communication.
We all know children's level of excitement falls away and they become easily distracted. The following is a list of ideas that will help you with your presentation:
Some things best to avoid: