We work in partnership with schools and colleges throughout Northern Ireland in educating future teachers in the main curricular areas.
Partnership implies the active involvement and co-operation of schools and practising teachers in the design of the course and in providing on-going training and support for students during periods of school experience.
As always we value schools' support and the commitment of their staff to our fledgling teachers. We are interested in schools' views on our provision and are pleased to receive feedback on any aspect of the PGCE.
The information in the Partnership Handbook is designed to give details of the course, of our procedures and to provide you with reference documentation on all aspects of the course. It should be read in conjunction with the Teacher Education Partnership Handbook folder produced by the Department of Education, sections of which are reproduced here.
Student Progress Forms
Guidelines for School Experience
Placement Student Engagement
Here are some suggestions on ways to engage students during school experience. Activities, and the role of schools and teachers in them, are outlined fully in the Northern Ireland Teacher Education Handbook (NITEC) and might include:
- Act as teachers’ assistants, more particularly during their first days in school.
- Attend departmental meetings.
- Join form teachers – observe pastoral arrangements in the school.
- Participate in team teaching.
- Observe classes of different levels/years to include subjects outside their specialist areas.
- Eventually teach about 15 to 18 lessons of 35 minutes (or rough equivalent) per week.
- Assist with supervision of tests and examinations.
- Familiarise themselves with assessment procedures required under the N.I.
- Curriculum and assist with the marking of pupil’s work.
- Work with small groups of pupils, or with individuals, including, remedial work.
- Take orals.
- Assist in resource preparation and stock-taking.
- Evaluate items of software and demonstrate them to teachers in the department.
- Join in extra-curricular activities and become involved in school events.
- Go on education trips (accompanied).
- Visit pupils on work experience.
Elements of a 'Good' Placement
School placements are designed to enable student teachers to develop teaching competence under the supervision of experience teachers. The main aspects of a ‘good’ placement are:
- What is the best timetable? The optimum timetable will cover a range of pupil ages and abilities. We recognise the good reasons why schools and colleges are sometimes reluctant to offer examination year classes to students. We would suggest, however, that opportunities to offer revision classes or other limited inputs to examination classes’ work (e.g. special topics, team teaching, etc.) would be very beneficial for the students. These need not be on the same regular basis as the main timetabled classes.
- Safety: We recognise the importance of ensuring our students’ safety and health whilst on placement and information and advice of a general nature is included in their placement preparation. On commencing placement we would request that students are provided with:
- Information on fire precautions and their role in an evacuation
- Information on First Aid arrangements within the school
- Appropriate instruction and training on any specific hazards and safety precautions relevant to their role
We would request that the University is informed of any accident or incident involving a student or any health and safety issues that are raised during the placement.
- How often should a student be observed in class? Students expect to be observed quite a lot, perhaps every class, for the first part of their placement. Once they are settled, the members of staff looking after them will usually then begin to give more time on their own – perhaps watching over them at a distance (e.g. from a storeroom) or attending every other lesson. A crucial aspect of the process at all stages in the placement is feedback. Students will wish to have their observers’ views on their performance, advice on how to improve it and hints and tips for particular situations. This ‘critical friend’ aspect of the placement is perhaps the most important dimension of a student’s development. The best process is open and supportive – with the students joining in discussion of their own progress, with their university tutors and the teachers. If a student is experiencing difficulty, the university tutors will offer additional support and will work with the teachers concerned to try to rectify the situation.
- Who should monitor and give feedback to the students? A number of people are likely to have some role in a student’s development. Students on a secondary PGCE will probably work with three or more teachers’ classes and each of these teachers can offer a major contribution to the student’s development. In addition, the head of the department(s) in which the student is teaching (some students may teach in more than one) will wish to oversee the student’s teaching contribution to their department, whether the student has one of their classes or not. Subject tutors from the University will generally liaise most closely with the heads of departments. The school’s teacher tutor (or in those schools and colleges that don’t operate a teacher tutor model, the senior member of staff with responsibility for staff development, NQTs and students) will also want to observe the student in order to inform his or her assessment of the student’s performance.
- Who writes the final report?We recognise that schools and colleges will wish to decide this for themselves. In some cases it may be the principal or vice-principal, the teacher-tutor orhead of department. Some will also provide multiple reports from all of the teachers whose classes the student has taken. All of these models are acceptable to the University and we are very grateful to have the written reports for the record. The University tutors will also seek verbal reports at all stages in the placement from as many school or college colleagues as possible. Ideally, the University would wish all such discussions to be carried on, for at least part of the time, with the student present. The written and verbal reports are the mainstay of the student’s assessment and are combined with all of the other sources (lesson observation reports by the University tutors, University-based work relating to competence development, lesson planning etc.) to enable the final and formal assessment to be undertaken by the University tutor.