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Dear Sage Placement woes

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Plodder1, May 10, 2012.

  1. Dear Sage, am hoping you or others can help.
    I am on my second placement and have met all course expectations, can evidence all the standards and observations have never graded below a 'good'. I have 6 weeks to the end of the course. Unfortunately, the current placement has proved difficult. The school does not have in place any provisions (no mentor, meetings, schemes of work...). My class teacher has openly admitted to having never had a trainee and changes their expectations of me daily (hourly!). I have remained professional throughout, even supplying forms and guidance in a personalised booklet to assist us both in creating a common understanding and focus.
    Unfortunately, I became ill. I followed procedures correctly and supplied a Dr's note (even though not required as I expected to return within days). The school responded as unwillingto continue the placement (no reason officially given as yet) and have referred back to the University.
    I do not want to be forced to interrupt my study. With only 6 weeks to go I am desperate for a solution to finish this year. What options are open to me? Can I request my files/ teaching are moderated early? Can I find my own alternative placement? I have teaching experience prior to the course, could this be used in any way?
    Thank you in advance for any replies!
     
  2. Dear Sage, am hoping you or others can help.
    I am on my second placement and have met all course expectations, can evidence all the standards and observations have never graded below a 'good'. I have 6 weeks to the end of the course. Unfortunately, the current placement has proved difficult. The school does not have in place any provisions (no mentor, meetings, schemes of work...). My class teacher has openly admitted to having never had a trainee and changes their expectations of me daily (hourly!). I have remained professional throughout, even supplying forms and guidance in a personalised booklet to assist us both in creating a common understanding and focus.
    Unfortunately, I became ill. I followed procedures correctly and supplied a Dr's note (even though not required as I expected to return within days). The school responded as unwillingto continue the placement (no reason officially given as yet) and have referred back to the University.
    I do not want to be forced to interrupt my study. With only 6 weeks to go I am desperate for a solution to finish this year. What options are open to me? Can I request my files/ teaching are moderated early? Can I find my own alternative placement? I have teaching experience prior to the course, could this be used in any way?
    Thank you in advance for any replies!
     
  3. You need to refer to your PGCE handbook as I suspect you will not meet the criteria for passing the course based on attendance. Most course providers have a set number of days in school you are required to do for you to pass. Hopefully the university will be able to find you somewhere to do your remaining days, even if it is only an 'enrichment' placement to enable you to tick off a few more standards.
     
  4. Hello, thanks for your swift reply I really appreciate it. Currently I only have 3 days of non attendance throughout the whole course (2 for illness and 1 family funeral). I am willing to return, attend and continue but obviously without a placement this will be impossible. I don't know where to get advice from (unions????). It seems unfair that I could fail through forced non-attendance and lose out financially (course hasn't been cheap!!). Until now have been attending job interviews!! It is such a ridiculous situation.
    Are there any guidelines / procedures that should be followed ? Surely, the University has a duty of care as the ITT provider?? Are school's not under contract to fulfill their duty (they have been paid fee in advance I understand). I applied and paid for the advertised course, which included 2 school placements but only 1 and 0.5 has been provided???? All silent from University despite correspondence.....don't know who to ask to mediate. Is there an ACAS of the ITT world ???!!
     
  5. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    My school is paid a "fee" of £550 per trainee. That does not cover the costs that we incur by having a trainee. If I, as Professional Mentor, decide that we will not be continuing a placement for a trainee, then that trainee will not return. I have had to make this decision and it is not one that I have ever made lightly. Never has the Training Provider tried to overrule that decision: it is not in your interests to return to a placement where the relationship has broken down so irrevocably.
    We are acknowledged as an excellent partner school and are often a placement for trainees who have previously been asked to leave or need to repeat a placement because of our quality of care. I think you need to be looking into the option to resit a placement.
     
  6. Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, as a career changer with a young family I cannot afford to resit. It appears my teaching career has ended before it really began.
    I had not received any prior indication (or notifications to improve/cause for concern) of the school's intentions. Would your students have been made aware, or is this the common practice?
    As I have not been given any opportuinity to correct any issues (I still have not been informed as to what those issues are) I feel the school and training provider have acted unfairly (happy to take thousands of pounds of my money though.... ).
    Thank you again for replying, It's nice just to rant!
     
  7. Yes, you should have been made aware that you were a cause for concern and then given clear targets to help you meet the standards you were struggling with, we also try to do extra observations, and the tutor makes more visits in order to help and support the trainee. We did end a placement once suddenly but that was due to extreme unprofessionalism on the part of the trainee and he was very clearly made aware of this. I would contact student services and your union for advice especially if you need a re-sit placement and you are going to end up out of pocket through no fault of your own. I would also arrange a meeting with your tutor asap. to find out exactly what the issues were.
     
  8. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    Depends on the situation. I once told a trainee at 3.30 pm that he was not to return the next day. Normally, though, there is a process to follow which involves a warning and a follow up. If I don't follow the process, I should not expect the system to back me up.
    This is unfair and something that you must challenge. However, I reiterate that I think your placement has probably broken down irrevocably and that the best thing for you is to resit. I do appreciate that it's not quite as simple as that, but having worked with a trainee in a similar situation this year (he came to us as a resit) I think that your interests are best served elsewhere. Insisting on going back will not help you.
    As I said, the school gets very little of it, and our main concern is for our students, not for the trainees we take. When I have asked/told trainees to move on, it has been to protect their interests. Whatever the real reason, I suspect that that's the reason that will be given for your placement being withdrawn.
    Only you can decide, but I do think a resit placement is your best option.


     
  9. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I think Sleepyhead's response, whilst accurate from a professional mentor's point of view, comes across a little bit harsh. From the OP, it appears as though you are baffled as to why you are not allowed to return.
    Two days of absence through illness does not seem to be a reasonable explanation for ending your placement abruptly. There must be more information. However, if everything is as you say, and the school was completely unprepared to accept a student and did not fulfil their responsibilities with regards mentoring etc, then I'd suggest you get in touch with your university VERY quickly and ensure they know all of this information.
    Given your family situation, you cannot afford to wait to graduate. Have you got a job lined up for September? If you have, they may be willing to allow you to continue with them to complete your placement?
    I hope you get it sorted. I appreciate was Sleephead is saying about protecting the students' interests, but if everything is as you describe I can't see how there is a concern for the students. Unless there is more to the story...
     
  10. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    What costs do you incur? Not challenging you, just wondering.
     
  11. Also, don't you have any benefit from having a trainee? They do teach with minimal supervision in the 3rd placement. Surely, they are a help in some way or other. You sound very negative, Sleepyhead.
     
  12. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    We provide each one of them with a netbook computer whilst they are with us.
    My time for mentoring costs the school money in terms of my not being in the classroom, both for scheduled lessons when I am observing, but also in the fact that I do not teach my full timetable allocation.
    The costs trainees incur whilst in placement: last year, one of them ran up £1000 of photocopying charges!!!
     
  13. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    I certainly agree with this. We have a trainee who misses a day a fortnight through treatment for a long-term illness, and this is something we are working around. He will be staying on after the placement officially ends to make up his days.
    I am just as confused about this as the OP and as you, Eva_Smith. However, if the placement school really wants you gone, I don't see that going back is a good idea. Potentially, it's going to be a very unpleasant experience.
    There may well not be, but if the school really doesn't want the OP back, then this is what they will say.


     
  14. Sleepyhead. Why do schools agree to having PGCE students? Are they obliged in any way? It sounds costly and labour intensive for the school.
     
  15. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    There are many many benefits to having trainees in school. I am not negative about trainees at all: I'd be a terrible professional mentor if I were.
    However, trainees, however good they are, create work for people. I work hard to make sure that my mentor team know what they're getting into before they start, because some people think that being a mentor involves giving over your classes and lurking in the staffroom for weeks on end. I expect the trainees to get their mentor time with their SM each week, and that they get their mentor time with me each week, and that they get regular observations and decent feedback, and that we make sure that we prepare them as well as possible for their careers. Some people find this rather onerous, and I do know of schools where the trainees are taken in large numbers for the funding they bring in and then left to their own fate.
    In respect of the OP's situation, what I AM negative about is the idea of pressing to go back to a place where it is pretty apparent that the OP is no longer wanted. I appreciate the financial situation is precarious, and that must be a concern, but having dealt with resit trainees on more than one occasion (because despite the perception here that I am a negative trainee hater, the TP we place for sends them to us because of the pastoral care that I provide) I strongly believe that leaving their previous placements was the best thing for them. Our most recent resitter was unceremoniously chucked from a previous school, having being told he would fail. He arrived beaten down and afraid that his mentor might have been right. I ran into that person recently and was able to pass on the news that he's doing extremely well and that we've offered him a job.
    My advice to the OP remains the same: if they don't want you, you'd be better off looking into a resit placement elsewhere. Some schools are not nice places, and some mentors are not nice people. If the only reason they're trying to move you on is 2 days off, then they're being unreasonable, in which case your TP needs to be taking it up with them.
     
  16. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    Not obliged at all.
    We do it because the HT believes that we are the kind of place to bring on new professionals. I was a Subject Mentor and did it because I love what I do, and love helping English teachers to find their way into it. Now I am Professional Mentor, I do that job because mine was **** when I trained, and I believe that I do it better!
    Business manager worked out a year ago that the money trainees bring in each year would only cover costs if we had twice as many of them, but didn't give me any more time to do the job. I am hoping that never comes to pass, since 50 minutes a week for 5 of them is hard enough!
    I can't speak for schools, but some departments do it for the free time that they gain (and then complain when the trainee can't manage a 60% timetable with no support - they don't have trainees any more!). Some teachers get paid for the mentoring (not in my school) and some do it to meet the UPS criteria.
    Done properly, it's not easy. I've started planning for next year already: I audit the placement reports from this year and work out which depts need a rest; find out who wants trainees in their dept and when; work out who needs updated training; persuade the HT to let those people go.
    Despite that, I love it. I went into two trainee lessons last week, and whilst neither was perfect, they have come on in leaps and bounds since they arrived. I get emails from past trainees letting me know what they're up to now. One past trainee has become a close friend, and has just got her first promoted post after just 2 years, so I get to share in her delight at that.
     
  17. Poor you, you have been very badly treated.


    Your TP should be being more supportive, unfortunately it seems that they often aren't. I would send an email cooly listing your complaint and concerns and requesting a meeting to discuss the situation and visibly copy in someone more senior than your tutor.


    Good luck.
     
  18. Thanks for the response *sleepyhead*. I am very interested what having a student is like from a school's perspective as I am quite shocked by some of the tales I hear on this forum. It sounds to me that it can work well for schools providing you have a good student and a good mentoring scheme in place.

    I am only at the stage of applying for PGCEs at the moment and I may have to find my own placement which means I will have to be interviewed by the school first. Clearly, the more I know about the process the better my interviews might be and I will know what questions to ask.
     
  19. I hope you sort this out Plodder. I think the other posters are right - you need to be firm and state your case but it sounds like you need to find another school. I think it is completely wrong for a school not to give a proper explanation. Even if you have been at fault in some way, the school is showing itself to be unreasonable by not talking to you about the situation.
     
  20. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    As am I!

    My first SM was worse than useless: her top tip was to use my breasts to help me manage low ability, predominently boys, classes. My second SM was too busy to care much (He's now my HoD and the situation is much the same!)
    First PM: met her once. Second: a sleaze. He's now AHT at my school. Nothing has changed!
    I would ask about the programme. I give my trainees that on day one, and it sets out what sessions they will do, when and with who. They also get a handbook with key info about the school (culled from the handbook) and various other documentation. They get one session a week with their SM and one or two a week as part of their wider CPD. I don't run all of those, but I do go to many of them, and trainees are always welcome to come and find me for a chat if they need to.
    I agree. Even a weak student can make it with good mentoring. And if they can't, I have to tell them so in a way which does not take from the fact that they have tried, often exceptionally hard, to do so.
    Good luck with your application.
     

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