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Help !!! no placements...

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by jennitatt1, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Hi I am new to this and really could do with some advice. I am undertaking my PGCE at the moment as was supposed to start my placement next week. They have not been able to find placements for about 40 of us, and now I am getting worried that I will not be able to pass my course.
    What can I do, I have been told not to approach schools in my area.
    Any advice most welcomed
  2. Hi I am new to this and really could do with some advice. I am undertaking my PGCE at the moment as was supposed to start my placement next week. They have not been able to find placements for about 40 of us, and now I am getting worried that I will not be able to pass my course.
    What can I do, I have been told not to approach schools in my area.
    Any advice most welcomed
  3. I am full of sympathy for your predicament, but you and your group are by no means alone. It's getting more and more difficult to find schools for all students, as none of them is obliged to take any trainees and for one reason or another many decline, often at the last minute, leaving your uni in a spin.
    I'm afraid there isn't much you can do about it, except to keep in close touch with your placement office and keep asking for any progress. Should you have insufficient school experience by the end of the course, you will probably have to stay on your course, possibly into the autumn term. This is something to be avoided, but sadly it's becoming more common.The reason why unis say youy shouldn't find your own placement is that any potential school must enter into a partnership agreement with your uni, and they must be up to speed on your uni's procedures and expectations, which differ among ITT providers.
    If you belong to a teaching union, have a word with their student teacher rep.
  4. As Alec says, placements are a real issue. School do not have to take students and it is always a delicate operation to find the placments that suit the trainees and that can offer a good quality training provision. Forty places is a lot and it may well be that they have unconfirmed places (i.e. schools who have said maybe but who have not signed their partnership agreements) in which case the true picture could be slightly better. What you need from the university is regular updates on the placement situation so do ask if it is possible for the uni to let you know how things are going rather tha operating in a 'blackout'; with no information. Universities don't let students find their own places as there need to be talks about agreements, financial issues such as payments, insurance and liabilities that need to be discussed. In addition if the local schools are inundated with requests from you aas a student body they would probably receive multiple calls from different students all seeking to get a place - this will annoy and irritate the school - their immediate response is most likely to be no.
    Ask your placement officer if there is anything that you as students can do e.g. if you know of friends or relatives that work in schools who you could make contact with informally and then pass details to the uni so they can make more formal approaches. Try to work with the uni on this as I know from experience that they do care and do try very hard to get suitable placements. Finally ask the uni if they have a contingency plan e.g. a revised training programme that allows some to complete practice now and the rest to do a later practice occupying the places vacated by the first batch of trainees. This is very radical and may not be possible but all avenues may need to be explored in very difficult situations.
  5. James, would it be an improvement if universities were not allowed to take students that they could not provide a placement for them? A list of schools that are willing to take students, that matches up with the number of students they take. Of course the unexpected might happen here and there, but that surely shouldn't leave more than a few students with a temporary problem.

    With the way my course was run, if they didn't find me a second placement I would've had to pay extra living costs from June to February, on top of what I already paid to sit around and do nothing from January to June. If that does happen, as it's the university's fault for oversubscribing and failing in their duty to provide, I fully believe that the university should be contributing to this, either with grants, funding, or refunds.
  6. katnoodle

    katnoodle New commenter

    Jennitatt1 I really feel for you, what a frustrating situation. It goes to show how difficult it really is to set up placements. When my friends and family hear where my placement is they seem shocked, and react as if I should march up to the PGCE office and demand somewhere closer! They find it hard to believe that you have to count yourself lucky you've actually got a placement, but that's the way it is ...
  7. How many students a uni can take is regulated by the TDA currently. At present, due to the new coalition government spending review we have yet to be told how many students we can recruit. The recruitment cycle starts in September so from last September until now we have not be able to confirm any offers. I suspect that if we did try toi further limit offers to only the number of places we had it would be chaos.
    As an example at Sussex we took 60 science students for last September, wiuth returners we needed 63 places. In July we had about 20 - 30 confirmed placements. So should we reject 33 pweople at the last minute? If we could only offer a PGCE place when we had a schiool place would mean that we could only offer places in September when schools confirm to us that they are prepared to take a student. We couldn't interview and get things in place, the uni couldn't employ staff as our jobs are dependent on student numbers. It's a non starter.
    In the end we managed to place every trainee for the start of their placement in September, we have also managed to place every trainee for second placement - but we are so lucky in Sussex to have such a supportive long-standing relationship with our schools. In Inner city areas or where there are a number of providers in a small geographic area placements are a major issue.
    I would also say that the placement issues shoot big holes in Michael Gove's idea that all teacher training should take place in schools. It is clear that schools have problems supporting trainees even though there is a mnassive back up system that does all the admissions, checking of qualifications, support work etc. If schools had to do everything teacher training would collapse.
    So universities do not over subscribe, we are at the mercy of the schools. No school would provide us now with a cast iron guiarantee of places next September - things change staff leave, heads change, people fall ill suddenly, they hire NQTs and all these things can affact a school's ability to properly suppor a trainee. And, after all, as schools remind us their prime concern is teaching children not teaching teachers.
    All universities wiull have clauses in their offers about thr provision of placements that is that while they strive to make full provision of placements it cannot guarantee this as it is out of their control. The only time the univerfsioty could be held responsible would be if the DfE made taking students mandatory for schools, then the uni would be able to place trainees in schools that traditionally never take trainees - then you have the issue of mentor training so that the trainee gets proper support.

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