For students

An introduction to placements and professionalism

School placements are an integral part of your learning as a student teacher. Our programme is designed so that the university-based parts of the programme combine seamlessly with the school-based elements to encompass the complete ITE Core Content Framework and Teachers’ Standards. We aim for this continuity to carry on beyond your course with Leeds Beckett University into your ECT year, so you should see the school placements as a part of a larger whole. During your course you will have short placement periods in school including a lower and a higher key stage experience which are designed for you to develop your understanding of aspects of school practice and to help you prepare for your more extended periods in school.

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Your school placement will be a challenging but exciting time in which you will perhaps learn as much about yourself as you do about teaching. It is a chance for you to decide whether teaching really is for you, to begin to develop into the professional you aspire to be, and perhaps more importantly, it will give you the opportunity straight away to make a difference to children’s lives.

In this section we have provided advice on how to communicate during your placement, guidance on how to dress and behave professionally, and a general guide to navigating the events that may happen during your school experience.

The ITE Core Content Framework (CCF) is an essential resource for you and your Mentor throughout your placements. It maps out the key areas in which you will be developing and will support you and your Mentor in planning, reflecting and target setting. The CCF is built into the expected progress statements that we use to structure your placements as you progress through the phases of your training. You and your Mentor will draw on the ‘Learn How To…’ statements as a resource to focus your conversations as you progress.

Communication during your placement

It is important for you to communicate with us appropriately when you are on placement. We do need to hear from you swiftly if things are not going well and we would equally like to help you celebrate your achievements.

It is also important for you to make contact with your school at an early stage and to remain in close touch during your placement. You are a part of a professional team whilst on placement and you have a responsibility to your host school to let them know if, for instance, you are unable to attend.

Whilst on placement your first and main point of contact should be your university Link Tutor. Our Link Tutors are all highly experienced and they will have come across almost everything that happens to you or that you will be feeling. The job of our Link Tutors is to help you get the most out of your placement and help you to perform at your very best so please make contact if you have any concerns however small you feel they are. If you are having difficulty contacting your Link Tutor, the Partnership Team are available to help. When reporting your absence from school for whatever reason you should contact your Link Tutor and the Partnership Team.

Before your placement starts you should contact:

  • Your placement school to introduce yourself and make arrangements for starting the placement, including finding out who your Mentor is.
  • Your Link Tutor, making sure they know at which school you are on placement and who your Mentor is.
  • The Partnership Team to ensure they know who your Mentor is and have their email address to add them to PebblePad.

Professional student conduct while on placement

Our students are expected to uphold academic and professional standards of conduct at all times. Becoming a teacher means taking on the role of a professional from the very start. The Teachers’ Standards put it this way.

A teacher is expected to demonstrate consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct. Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school. Teachers must have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of the school in which they teach and maintain high standards in their own attendance and punctuality.

Teachers’ Standards December 2021

As a student teacher on placement, you will be regarded as a member of staff (albeit a temporary one) in your school and accordingly, you are expected to be both a professional and a role model for children and young people. It is expected that student teachers will:

  • Dress appropriately and conform to the school’s dress code from the start of their placement. Dress should be ‘fit for purpose’ and conform to health and safety guidelines. In most cases it is appropriate to dress in a smart but casual way that is also appropriate for the classroom. You should, however, tie up long hair, remove any piercings, cover tattoos where possible, avoid wearing over-revealing clothing, jeans or leggings. Designer and expensive clothing is best avoided in a busy, active and sometimes messy environment. Likewise, it is also good practice and common sense to avoid any clothing that may cause offence to a school community or even be antagonistic, for example sportswear associated with particular teams. Students will also be expected to wear appropriate clothing, such as a tracksuit, for PE and associated lessons. Schools differ in what they consider to be appropriate dress although they are expected to respect the religious and cultural values of individual student teachers. If in any doubt raise this with your Mentor or another member of staff: they will have been student teachers themselves and so should understand and be helpful in this respect.
  • Attend school at the same time as members of staff, as you are a temporary member of staff. You should establish with your Mentor prior to the placement what time you are expected to be in school. We are aware that some journeys to school are challenging for student teachers, and you should have a professional conversation with your Mentor about the practicalities of attending. Students should check start and finish times with the school, but these may well need to be extended according to the amount of preparation and organisation needed to fulfil professional responsibilities as a teacher.
  • Demonstrate a professional attitude to all school (and university) staff, parents and pupils at all times. You should be professional and receptive to feedback on your teaching and progress, however difficult you may find this. Part of developing your relationship with your Mentor is showing that you are open to advice and criticism and can act on what your Mentor suggests. You should understand that responding to feedback is an important skill that you are developing on your placement. Being able to separate the personal from the professional is critical here: most Mentors simply want to see you improve, but in a busy and demanding classroom, communication can sometimes be difficult, and messages may not always quite come across as intended. Always take time to reflect on feedback and remember that your Mentor will always notice when you show in your teaching that you have absorbed and responded to their comments. If you do have concerns about the quality of the feedback you are receiving from your Mentor, your Link Tutor is there to help.
  • Communicate clearly and correctly. As well as being part of the Teachers’ Standards by which you are assessed, spoken English is vital for children’s learning so you should pay attention to this aspect of your practice. Talking to children requires a different register to normal speech and you need to avoid ungrammatical phrases which work perfectly well in everyday life, but which will be confusing for children who are developing their own use of English. You should also avoid language that could be misunderstood such as slang, being overly familiar in the way you speak and, of course, any form of swearing.
  • Attendance at the University safeguarding sessions is compulsory. Safeguarding children is one of the prime responsibilities of any teacher and by extension of student teachers working with children during their training. You should be aware of and apply safeguarding procedures in your placement setting at all times. University safeguarding sessions are an important part of your preparation in this respect. It is always your responsibility during your training to be proactive in keeping children safe, which includes ensuring you are properly trained and briefed.
  • Become familiar with the school policies, follow procedures, safeguarding and behaviour management policies and take every opportunity to become involved in staff meetings and CPD. Students should become familiar with the health and safety regulations which apply to schools and particular subjects. You should be aware of and be prepared to fully engage with safeguarding policies and procedures in your setting. In respect of safeguarding, you should expect to have the same responsibility as any other member of staff from the time you start on placement: you should always ask your Mentor if unsure about anything to do with safeguarding and remember your Link Tutor is there to help you should you need them.
  • Be mindful of discussing any confidentiality issues inside or outside the placement setting and express any opinion in a professional manner and refrain from gossip. As a student teacher you may become privy to information about children and colleagues. You must treat personal information shared with you in confidence (for example medical conditions) with caution and only disclose this where necessary for your professional role. This care extends to playing your part in keeping data secure, so for example, you should not disclose passwords or allow access to school hardware or school premises.
  • Restrict use of mobile phones during the school day to private and personal time. Many schools have mobile phone policies for staff and students should check their placement setting’s policy.
  • Be mindful of social media posts and settings. Have social media profiles set to private and / or use a different first or surname. As several students have found to their cost in the past, social media posts will always be discovered, and you should be able to account professionally for anything that is publicly available on social media connected with you.
  • Protect yourself and others from potential complaints by never meeting / remaining with pupils on your own in a private space. When you are with pupils, there should either be a member of school staff present or you should meet in a public space where you can be seen by others. Mentors will be aware of this and will perhaps raise this with you early on in your placement. You will sometimes be dealing with complex and sensitive issues on placement, and you should always ensure that you are properly supervised, and you should refer any concerns to your Mentor and/or the person in the school with responsibility for child protection. If in any doubt, your Link Tutor can advise on this.
  • Take an active and committed role in the classroom. This will include assessing pupils’ achievements (including the marking of homework), keeping records, working under the supervision of placement staff and observing codes of confidentiality.
  • Complete lesson planning as requested by Professional / Associate Mentor. Our standard expectation is that such planning should be made available at least 48 hours before the teaching of the relevant session (see section on planning below).
  • Complete any directed activities as required and take the initiative in liaising with Professional / Associate Mentor to organise these. Participation in extracurricular activities is an expectation, therefore students must show initiative and not wait to be asked. Students should attend the placement provider's professional development days unless this is judged by the host school to be inappropriate. It is expected that students participate in playground duty alongside their class teacher and greet pupils at the beginning of the school day and dismiss them alongside the class teacher as appropriate to the setting.

Statutory legal responsibilities in school

Students must be aware of the school’s statutory legal responsibilities about the following and ensure they are familiar with them:

  • Medicine - do not administer medicines in any form to pupils.
  • Sex Education - do not undertake any teaching in relation to sex education, either as a planned activity or as it arises in class discussion.
  • Substance Use/Misuse - if pupils report any issues relating to drug or solvent abuse, even in confidence, immediately report the matter to the host teachers and/or the Headteacher.
  • Child Protection - if pupils report any issues relating to abuse even in confidence, immediately report the matter to your Mentor and the child protection / safeguarding lead.
  • Playground Duty and PE - a qualified teacher must be present during playground duty and in the teaching of Physical Education. Student teachers must not take sole responsibility for these or related activities.
  • Physical Contact - be mindful of professional responsibilities and the legal framework governing physical contact between teachers and children. Students also need to understand the school policy relating to this matter.
  • Industrial Action - students need to discuss their position with the Headteacher regardless of your union status.

Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP)

At Leeds Beckett, we have a supportive and inclusive approach to working with our students: we will always do our best to help you to overcome any barriers you may experience with your progression to becoming a teacher. Reasonable Adjustment Plans are designed to help you, your Mentor, Link Tutor and other professionals plan and communicate regarding meeting your individual needs.

  • Reasonable Adjustment Plans (RAP) are what are put in place to ensure students have fair and equal access to education. Students would meet with Disability Support Advice (DSA) to discuss what barriers may be present in the course and on placement. The DSA would explore support strategies that may help enable them to access teaching, learning, assessments, and other aspects such as placement or field trips.
  • The RAP will detail reasonable adjustments and any difficulties students have relating to their studies. It will be distributed to select Leeds Beckett University staff so that the course will be made more accessible to students and it will include advice to students and University staff.
  • Once the student has contacted DSA, they will be asked to complete a registration form with details about the disability / health issue and any support that may be beneficial. Students will be asked to upload evidence of their disability or long-term condition (expected to last or has lasted longer than 12 months).
  • The student will then be invited to an appointment with a Disability Adviser to discuss reasonable adjustments. Your Reasonable Adjustment Plan will be set up in this appointment, and the Adviser will explain how to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (if appropriate) or alternative external funding.
  • Once the RAP is circulated to university staff, students will have the option to share this with their placement schools via PebblePad. It will be completely up to the student if they want to share this information or not. We would strongly advise that this is shared, so our Partnership Schools can put the necessary support and adjustments in place, in preparation for the placement. It is the student’s responsibility to share their RAP with their placement school.
  • The University understands that disabilities and health issues may vary from time to time so the support needed may also change. Amendments can always be made to RAPs to ensure they meet the needs of the student. Students can contact Disability Advice at any time to speak to an Advisor about this.
  • Please let us know as soon as possible if there is any change in your circumstances which affects your access to learning in any way.