By far the best and most enjoyable part of my course are the placements that we get to do.
Throughout the 3 years of our training, we are placed in a variety of different schools in wish we gain unforgettable amounts of experience and knowledge. It’s the time to put everything we have learnt from lectures into practice and really get to grips with what life is like as a teacher.
School placements are terrifying to start with. It’s not uncommon to worry each year about how far away your school will be, what the school will be like, if the children will be your preferred age or if the staff will be helpful.
Of course it’s normal to be nervous and wish for everything to go perfectly smoothly.
On a teacher training course especially, the placements are so important.
But the great thing about the placements that we get here at the University of Worcester, is that we have ample opportunities to concur our nerves and are able to prepare ourselves in small steps.
In the first year, the placement is only two days a week for a short block of 5 weeks.
The next placement (also in the first year) is a block of 4 weeks. At the time, this seems like a lifetime. But I guarantee that most trainee teachers are reluctant to leave at the end of this block.
In the second year, we are placed for two weeks, then a further two weeks later in the year, then a larger block for about 6 weeks. This is generally all in the same school, if everything goes to plan.
The third year placement increases again, to around 8 weeks, with a few visit days, and is the most important of all. I salute all the year 3’s that are on their placement currently, and wish luck to all those completing it in the years to come (myself included!)
The expectations also increase with each placement, but you will soon understand this in more detail.
An example of something that is expected from us, is what the University calls, ‘school based tasks.’ The English school based task for the first year, for example, was to observe and comment on a phonics lesson and then teach one.
I remember being petrified about this to start with, because the set tasks that you have to do force you to jump in the deep end, whether you’re ready or not.
It’s only scary to start with though and I believe that this is the best way to prepare you for what’s to come.
After all, the general ambition here is to graduate and teach full time… so in the long run, a few simple lessons like this seem easy peasy.
Occasionally, some of the lessons that you teach will be observed and graded by the class teacher and your tutor. Don’t worry though.. this isn’t like OFSTED (although sometimes it can feel that way.) They are solely there to support you and help you be the best teacher that you can be.
They were in your position once, so make the most of having somebody to turn to whilst you’re in the classroom, and always take their feedback on board.
Another massive positive about the School Placements here is that they try to provide you with a variety of experiences, in different schools, with different ages and with a range of different ability children.
My first placement was in a middle school, with a class of year 5’s and 6’s. My next placement was with a mixed class of year 1’s and year 2’s in a small village school, and my current 2nd year placement is in a Special Education Needs School with a reception class.
Although my preferred age is children in the early years (3-7,) I have found it very refreshing to experience a variety of different settings. This also enhances your CV aswell, as you have a wider range of experiences to offer.
In the second year, you get offered the opportunity to do a placement in a Special Needs school. This isn’t for everyone, and it’s completely your choice whether to take this up. I was unsure and had no prior experience in a setting like this, but I took leap anyway.
I have been placed in an incredible school in Bromsgrove and after just two weeks there, I’m almost certain that a career in Special Needs is for me. So even if you’re slightly considering this option, go for it. You have nothing to lose and tonnes of knowledge to gain!
Placement is scary, busy and often stressful…but it’s also invaluable.