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What to expect on your teaching placement

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Published: 18 May 2020

Whether you complete your initial teacher education (ITE) in a school, college or other setting, your time in the classroom should be an exciting and stimulating part of your ITE programme. It will be your first taste of being a classroom teacher and your first chance to practice your new skills.

Teacher in a classroom

What can I expect on my teaching placement?

  • A named mentor in school who will support you pastorally and with your progression towards meeting the Teachers’ Standards (2012). You will meet regularly with your mentor to discuss your progress and set targets.
  • Regular, constructive verbal feedback on lessons and activities you plan and teach
  • Weekly written feedback on an observed lesson
  • A minimum of two visits from your named University Tutor during each placement. At least one visit will include observation and feedback on your practice
  • Regular communication and cooperation between the University and your placement school
  • You will be sent contact details about your school upon confirmation of your placement
  • Opportunities to meet with other teachers, in particular others on the way to gaining QTS and NQT status.


What should I not do as part of my placement?

You should never be asked to:

  • Undertake supervision duties at breaks on your own
  • Carry out first aid on a pupil or teacher following an accident
  • Administer medicines
  • Cover when a permanent teacher is off sick or absent for any other reason
  • Take part in performance management/appraisal
  • Administer or assist in any intimate or medical care needs of pupils


Student teacher with pupils in a classroom


What can I do to prepare?

There are a number of things you can do to be properly prepared before you go into the classroom, and we are here to help you with any difficulties:

  • If possible try and do a practice journey to your placement school so that you are familiar with the journey and can turn up on time on your first day!
  • Make contact with the school once your placement has been confirmed to introduce yourself, check professional expectations – e.g. dress codes, and ask if there is anything particular you need to do in preparation for your first day
  • Read the instructions and contact details on the email confirming your placement properly
  • Go onto the school website and do some initial research
  • Find out the names/contact details of key staff, for example the head of department and the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
  • Find out about the school’s customs and routines, for example, times of sessions, break and lunch times and how teachers are addressed by pupils and parents
  • Find out about safeguarding procedures and the name of the designated safeguarding lead
  • Ask for copies of the school’s code of conduct or behaviour policy, the school handbook or prospectus, the equal opportunities policy, health and safety information, and any plan of the school, if it is a large or split site school.


What about my pupils?

It is important to learn about your pupils:

  • Find out the age range of the pupils you will be teaching, what is being taught and the stage reached by the pupils, and ask the class teacher or phase coordinator/head of department for copies of the schemes of work in use
  • Consult closely with the teachers about individual pupils’ needs and the most effective ways of organising children to work
  • Discuss reasonable adjustments that you may need to consider for pupils with special educational needs and disabled pupils with the school/college SENCO
    Find out which of your pupils (if any) are subject to child protection orders or concerns
  • Familiarise yourself with the children, including learning their names and being aware of their individual needs. Seating plans can help with this and the school or setting may already have them in place


When should I be unsupervised?

The extent to which you should expect to be supervised by and accompanied by teachers before going solo will depend on your experience and growing skills. Teachers will exercise their professional judgement in the level of support and presence that is appropriate. Once you have established yourself, supervision may decrease depending on your progress and the school or setting protocols and policy. At all points in your training, you will continue to be formally observed each week.

You will be given regular, constructive verbal and written feedback on your lessons. While at the school, you should be given at least the same level and form of support available to the members of staff there.

Student in conversation

How many hours count as a full day in a school?

Although the length of the school day varies for pupils from school to school, individual placement schools have slightly different expectations around the time you will need to be on-site too. You should treat placement like a full-time job. Most schools will expect you to be in by 8:30 at the latest and there is an expectation that you complete non-teaching tasks such as meetings, marking and preparation once the children leave each afternoon. You will be given the opportunity to participate in team meetings and extracurricular activities and this is an area that is considered as part of the Teachers’ Standards (2012); it will add to your school experience and may help when applying for jobs.

Will I have to find my own placement?

Our Placements Office will source your placements. We have established partnerships with hundreds of schools across the North East of England and beyond.

The Placements Office work very closely with your Programme or Module Leaders and between them, they will match trainees to schools, colleges and other settings. If you have a particular school or college you would like to request, please provide the details on the Trainee Information Form (TIF) which we will send to you once you have enrolled, and we will work with you to make arrangements. There is, however, no guarantee you will be placed in the school you request as there are many factors to take into account.

Trainees should not cold call schools to arrange teaching placements unless it is for your pre-course primary placement days. Our partner schools prefer to liaise directly with our Placements Office to arrange placements. If you have a specific named contact within a school please pass this onto our Placement Office who will work with you to make arrangements.

Which school or college will I be placed in and when will I find this out?

We allocate placements to trainees based on the area you live in, whether you drive or rely on public transport and your training and academic needs. We also have opportunities for trainees to elect to complete an out of area placement to develop skills across different contexts.

There are many factors we take into account when matching trainees to placements. For example, it may be the case that schools in your local area are not taking students on placements or have not offered the specific key stage or subject you require and therefore that placement may be offered to another student where it matches their training and academic needs.
When considering viability of placements, we ensure a reasonable maximum travel distance and time (except in out of area placements where you may be accommodated in the area for the duration of your placement).

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