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School placement- where do I stand?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Lucy_cat, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. Just been given my B placement school- and to get there, I'd have to leave home before 6am. m tutors are not being at all helpful, and not addressing my concerns at all, just saying that it will be impossible to change. This is annoying me because I had a terrible first placement, with the tutors know, and have now been given the added stress of 2 hours a day more travel time than previously, whereas people who have had no problems with the placement and are coping with the workload much better have been given school less than five minutes walk away. I know it seems pathetic to compare myself to others, but I also had the longest commute for A placement of my cohort, and I think it is too much to ask for the same to happen in B placement.
    Does anyone know if I can go above my tutors about this, or is it a 'deal with it or leave the course' situation? Given how close I was to packing it in before Christmas, the chances of me being able to stay on it with the added pressure are slim.
  2. Hi Lucy
    I don't know which Uni you are at but it sounds like a very similar situation to my own. My placement school is 65 miles away from my home and I don't have a car. I asked my tutors what could be done and was also told it was impossible to change. I don't actually live in the city that my Uni is in and was told that that was my fault. Well even if I DID live there I'd have to be getting a train at half past 5 because the rail links are awkward.
    I was basically told to deal with it or leave. The upshot of it is I have had to find a housemate near my placement school which is proving really really hard. I'm married and miss my husband desperately, it's a financial hardship to pay 2 lots of rent and I'm struggling to get into the teaching because I'm so lonely and upset. I feel like I'm going to fail the course because of this.
  3. cupofteacher

    cupofteacher New commenter

    Hiya, I am not on a PGCE but just offering my opinion.
    When I went to PGCE interviews last year, it was made very clear that there was the possibility of us having to travel for extensive amounts of time to get to our schools. It was also made clear to us that that would be an expectation. We were also advised to get a car before we started. This is one of the reasons I did not opt for PGCE, I cannot drive due to a medical condition, and need 11 hours of sleep a night, therefore travelling a 2hour commute each morning was not practical. Did your Unis mention anything similar on your interview/in your handbook? I think if I were in your position at one of the unis I interviewed at, they would tell me to deal with it as I had known from the offset there was a posibility of a commute. Can either of you car share with any current members of staff at your placement schools? I would ask your mentor to put feelers out to see if that is possible.
  4. Oh dear, I know how you feel - I had to travel an hour and a half both ways to one of my placement schools last year. It's not fair, no. And yes, a bunch of others at Uni had 5 min walks etc. Grr! Luck of the draw.
    The thing is, it seems that certain teachers are rather quick to label students (eg. the lazy one, the weird one, the amazing one, the threatening one) and I'd really recommened that if you do have to go to this school you don't moan about the travel to anyone there! I mentioned my long commute to my mentor at placement A just once and she was really funny about it. I got the strong impression that she portrayed me as a right moaner to other staff and it felt pretty uncomfortable! Wish I'd never said anything really. She always made all these sly little comments about it.
    It's just another PGCE hoop to jump through. NQT year is way easier.
  5. I have had a similar experience, my first placement was over 20 miles away from where I live and I do not drive, making my day a lot longer and costing me a lot of money. It annoys me because we were told at interview that a requirement of the course was to live within 20 miles of the university and then they send us out further than that anyway. A friend of mine also had a terrible experience as we had a week's placement and three of the schools used were in walking distance for her yet she was placed an hour's drive away. I just don't think they take where you live into account at all. I am now awaiting details of my next placement and hoping that they make it so that the people who were close to home last time are placed further away and vice versa. The expense of it is my biggest issue, I am a student, I cannot afford to be travelling all over the country. As well as that, our days are long enough without having to leave before 7am and get back after 7pm to continue working through the night.
  6. RamC

    RamC New commenter

    I'm on my PGCE at the moment, and we have been told right from the start that we might have to travel for up to 2 hours each way for our placements. However, considering the job climate at the moment, and the fact we have been told there is about a 1% chance of us even getting a job in our locality- I would suck it up and get on with it, try and make as good as an impression as you can. Then, you can look for jobs that are of an equal distance away, knowing you can handle it.

    On the other hand, sometimes it doesn't hurt to ask at allocations, as someone closer might be willing to swap with you or something ;)
  7. missgeo

    missgeo New commenter

    Your placed at the most suitable placement, not the closest. Unless you have a specific reason for needing to be close (kids/medical condition) then travel is at the bottom of the priority list.

    Is temporarily moving closer to the school a possibility?
  8. going grey quickly

    going grey quickly New commenter

    one aspect you need to remember though - how many schools in the locality are taking students? In my school we did used have PGCE students, however, this year we have lost a free period for each member of the department and therefore any mentoring etc would have to be done after school. As we are already under a lot of pressure we have declined students this year as we don't have the time to mentor to a suitable level
    When I was completing my PGCE the same situation arose - there are only so many school within the locality of the uni and not all of them want students. the uni can only place where there is availability. (One trick I did learn though; never admit to having a car as that way I was placed coser to my home address....)
  9. katnoodle

    katnoodle New commenter

    Be careful though - my uni has warned us of dire consequences if they found out any of us were lying about having cars in order to get a closer placement. I think it even extended to being thrown off the course!
  10. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    My uni was quite sympathetic regarding placements; no-one was more than 90 mins away from their school and they took into account dependents, transport links, having a car etc. As the uni is in London, some people lived quite a way out (one as far as Brighton!) but if the uni couldn't place them in a school near their home, the student themself sorted out a school that was willing to take them on. So it's worth asking if you can do that, or seeing if someone else will swap.
    However, if you were told about the possibility of long travel when you were interviewed, it's probably best to try and get on with it. I know it's hard, having done the same just a couple of years ago, but the time will fly past and then you can look for jobs nearer to your home.
    Good luck and don't let the stress get to you!
  11. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I'm afraid you do just have to suck it up and get on with it. At least thank your stars that the majority of your full-time placement will be as the nights/mornings are getting lighter and the weather milder (touch wood).
    My first placement wasn't that far mileage-wise, but was difficult to get to. A train, then a bus, then a 20 minutes walk....middle of winter in the North East, not fun! I was turning up looking like I'd been bragged through a bus: hair all over, trousers soaked up to the knees, loads of bags with my work in....it was hell but it had to be done. It didn't help that the school was terribly unsupportive; actually, that's not fair, the mentor wasn't supportive and I was pretty much left to get on with it. Luckily, my next school, whilst still a trak, was much more supportive and welcoming.
  12. Placements are a real problem and it is true that when uni tutoprs llok at placements, it's not just distance by type of school and how we think the trainee will fit in with the team and mentor at the school that we have to take into account. That said it is sometimes possible to effect a swap - why not see if there is a trainee who could/would do a swap and present this to your tutor.
    In your evaluation and feedback to the uni you may also want to suggest that the uni makes its placement criteria plain so that you all know why decisions have been made in a particular way.
  13. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    It bothers me a little that you seem to want to be given an easier time because you aren't coping with the workload and didn't do well last time. Why should someone else have to travel 2 hours because they are managing the workload and you are struggling to do so?

    Don't tell the other students on your course, but to be honest I'd not really want a student to live within 5 mins walk of their placement school. Your life would actually be much harder that way, especially if you were struggling. Distance is often an advantage.

    Like others have said, ask around about a swap and if not then just get on with it. There is nothing else you can do. going above your tutors to make a fuss would definitely not be a good move.

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