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Primary observation for secondary PGCE

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by lemonjaffacake, May 11, 2012.

  1. My uni requires 4 days of observation at a primary school over a specific 4 day period in September as part of the course which we must arrange ourselves. I am starting this process now and with the hassle I had finidng a secondary that would let me observe for a day, I am not expecting it to be easy. It is also the second week of term which will be very busy for schools. Is anyone else in the process of doing this? I'm wondering if I am too early now....but I don't want to leave it too late. So far I have contact my son's primary school but have had no response, so I plan to chase that up next week...:-/ .
     
  2. My uni requires 4 days of observation at a primary school over a specific 4 day period in September as part of the course which we must arrange ourselves. I am starting this process now and with the hassle I had finidng a secondary that would let me observe for a day, I am not expecting it to be easy. It is also the second week of term which will be very busy for schools. Is anyone else in the process of doing this? I'm wondering if I am too early now....but I don't want to leave it too late. So far I have contact my son's primary school but have had no response, so I plan to chase that up next week...:-/ .
     
  3. I think you are wise to try and organise this as soon as possible - many universities do want their secondary PGCE students to do a short KS2 experience in early September. Someone else has posted about having difficulties with finding such a placement:
    https://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/569541.aspx
     
  4. The timetable for my secondary PGCE course (IoE) shows the same thing - for a week in a Primary in early September. But in the covering otes it says we can actually do the obs at any time between now and the start of the course.This seems much more reasonable - and much less of an impositon on the primary schools who probably have more than enough on their plate in the first two weeks of the new academic year.
    I wrote off to ten local primaries asking for a week of obs and got three offers back more or less immediately - which was far easier than when I was trying to set up my pre-apllication two weeks obs at a secondary.
    I guess it may just be that there are obviously far more primaries than there are secondaries - or maybe applying once you've actually secured a place shows that you're serious. Having a CRB in place must help too.
    Good luck.
     
  5. This is for the KCL programme....and I haven't seen any notes about doing it in the current term, but that may be worth checking if I don't get anywhere. I've emailed about 10 schools now with no response, but I will keep on trying!


     
  6. StarbabyCat

    StarbabyCat New commenter

    Hey mate see you next week at the welcome day! After that I'm sending off my letter to my SIL's primary school for some point in June/July. At least I know I'm alright because of the contact I've got. I'm not starting any pre-course tasks until then ha ha, I'm enjoying the downtime!
     
  7. Hi Lemon,
    Same predicament as you. I'm pretty sure KCL want us to do it in those four days in September.
     
  8. Update! I have written to more than 25 schools and have had 3 responses, all rejections. I have no idea what I am supposed to do if I can't find anywhere that will take me......
     
  9. Won't your uni help you? Why won't your son's school let you do it? Is it because they don't want a parent in the staff room?
     
  10. I have written to uni so I'm waiting for them to reply. I think it is the dates, many schools have said they don't allow observations right at the start of term. My son's school hasn't actually replied to my email or my phone call - other than to say they are aware of my request and 'will get back to me'.
     
  11. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Keep on trying, you will find somewhere that will let you in (in my experience, a phone call is better than a letter, BTW)

    But, even if you can't get somewhere, Don't Panic.

    You must spend time in a Primary - that's a requirement of all Secondary teacher training - but it's not the end of the world if you can't do it in week 1. It'll be easier for you if you can get it done then as clearly you won't be missing lectures or having to fit it round your placements (and often the first written assignment expects you to comment on what you've seen in Primary), but you will not fail simply because you didn't do it in week 1.
     
  12. I have now written to 50 + schools and have chased my son's primary yet again but they aren't even bothering to phone me back. I am emailing mainly but I have tried ringing as well with absolutely no better luck and it just takes longer. I am getting really frustrated....
     
  13. Further update! I have written to almost 79 schools now and had 16 replies to say no - it got so confusing that I made a spreadsheet. Happily, pestering my son's school has paid off and I am doing my 4 days there in late June (which the course tutor has apparently agreed to). I sincerely hope that everyone else has had better luck than me!
     
  14. Just wanted to give a little advice that was also givento m: do not write. Call. Or visit if you can. Firstly because it is faster (if they do not have any place for you they can tell you straight away, and you can cross that school off your list). Secondly, it is easier for the schools to ask you questions, for you to answer them, it is more personal and they can faster give you a direct contact of the person responsible for sorting out student placements.

    Best of luck finding your placement.
     
  15. I am surprised that people keep giving me that advice because every school I phoned simply told me to email the admin address, or in some cases they would give me the email address of a specific person. I made repeat phone calls to chase up the emails and first phone calls too. And none of the specific people I was told to contact ever got back to me. One school told me that if I didn't hear anything to assume they had no places. I am still working full time in a lab so my phoning opportunites are limited to my lunch break and it wasn't practical to go around visiting 80 schools either.
     
  16. casperino

    casperino New commenter

    I've got to say that, having read this and other posts about organising preliminary placements in schools, I was a little freaked out that I might not get a placement anywhere and that it would be a long, hard slog.

    My university asks that we do eight days in a primary and two in a secondary to give us an overview of the issues around transitioning from primary to secondary.

    I did some research using the local council's website, and decided that, rather than blanket email, I'd be selective about the primary school's I'd approach. Like lemonjaffacake, I currently work full-time, so I don't often have time to call during the day, so I sent out an email to the school's email address as advertised on their website.

    I sent the email on Sunday evening purposefully knowing that it would be one of the first emails in the school's inbox on Monday morning. I made the subject-line very clear - identifying my request as a prospective secondary English PGCE looking for a preliminary placement, and I addressed the email to the headmaster using his actual name and not 'Dear Sir/Madam'. I included some details about what the university wanted me to do, what dates they had suggested, and what a preliminary placement might involve on the school's behalf. I also made them aware that I was already CRB checked, and that I was available for more information and questions before they made their decision.

    I was also sensible of the fact that schools are busy, and therefore decided I wasn't going to follow the email up with a phone call until at least next Monday (7 days after the original email was sent).

    And today the headmaster of the primary school rang me to say he was pleased to have received such a well-thought out email and was more than happy to take me for my preliminary placement. He detailed how his primary school had been used by other secondary PGCE students in the past, and the step-by-step process he usually uses when it comes to helping us through our preliminary placements.

    We've scheduled in a time for me to head up to the school (I currently live in London and the school is a couple of hundred miles away in the area where I'm going to be studying) so that I can have a tour, meet the staff, and go through exactly what I'd like to achieve in my placement. Given that I'm only going to be there for eight days, I've got to say I'm incredibly impressed with how helpful and enthusiastic the headmaster has been about having me there!

    So I guess emailing can and does work! It may be that I just approached a very proactive and enthusiastic primary school, but I think there are some things you can do to make your email stand out.

    I've now emailed the secondary school of my choice about the two-day placement - if I am able to secure my placement there off the back of the email I've sent, then surely email works?
     
  17. ml01omm

    ml01omm New commenter

    I found emailing/ letter writing worked best for me.
    This was because, I felt that when I rang the schools, my message was being lost in translation so to speak. I think sometimes the message that was reaching the teacher wasn't that I had to do this obseervation as part of my course, but rather it was just that I was interested in doing some observation to try and apply for the course.I felt is also gave me a tangible reason to phone up and chase.

    As noted, by the poster above, I was able to set it all out in writing and try and explain my reasons. I got many more responses when I did that ( though unfortunately, the majority saying - I'm really sorry but its too early in the school year blan blah).


     
  18. Casperino - that is really sensible advice and I am pleased that you have secured your placement, that sounds like a very nice school! I did try a variety of email tactics - emailing the head directly or the person I had found out was in charge of placements. I sometimes added my CV, I explained what I was doing and what I needed, I tried to sound helpful (I'm a STEMNET ambassador and have done school talks about science careers). And etc,etc.... I honestly found no difference between tailored emails and bog standard blanket ones in terms of getting a response. Maybe I've had such problems because I live in London and most schools are heavily involved in training already? Who knows....
    Oh, incidentally my university (King's) don't send out the specific details about what they expect us to achieve on our placements until late June. I requested it be sent to me now and having looked at it, I wish I'd have had it earlier to help me when contacting schools.
     

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