Professional Experience Policies and Guidelines

The success of the practicum is dependent upon strong positive relationships between all stakeholders. Deakin University professional experience office (PEO) works closely with our settings to ensure the pre service teachers have access to quality teaching and learning experience. Please make yourself familiar with our policies and guidelines to ensure clarity in all processes incorporated during placement. Please contact the PEO if you have queries or unclear about any situation.

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: International Students Applying for AITSL Assisted Migration Visa


Deakin University is unable to provide advice about migration-related matters. You should contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 131 881 or a Migration Agent (search the MARA website at https://www.mara.gov.au/) directly should you need advice on such matters.

Certain course-related decisions you make may impact on your ability to apply for other non-student visa options (such as temporary or permanent residence or some work visas). Taking one of the dual strands (i.e. ECE/Primary or Primary/Secondary) is an example of such a decision. It is important that you discuss course decisions with a Faculty Course Adviser in the first instance to ensure that you are aware of relevant requirements and that you seek further information about assessment for migration purposes through The Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership website at: http://www.aitsl.edu.au/assessment-for-migration

For general advice on visa-related matters, please contact the Deakin International Quality and Compliance Team at di-q-and-c@deakin.edu.au

Conduct During Professional Experience Placement

Deakin University School of Education pre-service teachers must abide by, and ensure their behaviour is in accordance with the Victorian Institute of Teaching Code of Conduct.

It is each pre-service teacher’s responsibility to make themselves fully aware of the Code, which is available at:
http://www.vit.vic.edu.au/conduct/victorian-teaching-profession-code-of-conduct/Pages/ReadtheCode.aspx

As stated in this link, the Code of Conduct has been developed for and by the Victorian teaching profession. It identifies a set of principles which describe the professional conduct, personal conduct, and professional competence expected of a teacher by their colleagues and the community. It is based on the values of integrity, respect and responsibility.

Its purpose is to: promote adherence to the values teachers see as underpinning their profession; provide a set of principles which will guide teachers in their everyday conduct and assist them to solve ethical dilemmas; affirm the public accountability of the teaching profession; and promote public confidence in the teaching profession.

In addition, the pre-service teacher should:

  • contact the student teacher coordinator/director at the school/centre in the week prior to the commencement of the practicum, and find out the name of the supervising teacher/s. An appointment is then made to visit the school/centre and discuss the arrangements for the placement with the supervising teacher/s.
  • should, on the first visit to the school/centre, establish the dates, times and timetable for attendance at the school/centre in discussion with the supervising teacher.
  • act as a professional at all times; dress and language should be appropriate to the school/centre context and as a teacher.
  • be punctual and notify the school/centre if running late (they must arrive at the school/centre at the time as discussed with the supervising teacher).
  • discuss with the supervising teacher the time to leave- in general, this should NOT be before the supervising teacher leaves.
  • accompany the supervising teacher to all meetings, yard duty, school/centre events etc.
  • mix with other pre-service teacher and teaching staff.
  • maintain appropriate confidentiality and discretion in relation to the staff, students, pre-service teachers and school/centre policies; pre-service teachers are visitors in schools and centres.
  • ask about car parking, use of photocopiers, and use of the library.
  • check on payment for tea, coffee, milk and take a mug.
  • Emergency Contact form - this form is located in resources. Pre-service teacher should fill it out and give it to the student teacher coordinator/director at the school in a sealed envelope. This ensures that the school/centre has contact details in the event of an emergency.

Placement Arrangements

  1. All practicums are organised by the Professional Experience Office. Pre-service teachers are placed within approximately 60 minutes of the term address on In Place - taking into account private/public transport. That is why it is essential that the Professional Experience Office be informed of any change of term address as soon as possible. It may be necessary for pre-service teachers with some secondary teaching methods to travel for longer than 1 hour.
  2. Students will not be placed at a school/centre for practicum if the PEO feels that a situation could affect the relationships between the university and the school/early childhood setting or affect the integrity of one or more parties involved. Examples could be:
    • Children/Siblings/relatives/ at a school/centre
    • Place of current employment
    • Former school of pre service secondary students
  3. The Deakin University Professional Experience Office commences the placement process for any particular placement at least 3 months in advance of the practicum dates. Changes to confirmed practicum arrangements within 3 weeks of the practicum commencement will occur only on Equal Opportunity or distance grounds and following a successful appeal to the Coordinator of Professional Experience. Pre-service teachers whose appeal is approved should note that they might not be able to be placed as per the scheduled dates and might have to attend a practicum during the alternative dates.
  4. Pre-service teachers attend the school/setting where they are placed and do not organise their own placements. Pre-service teachers should not contact schools or centres either directly or indirectly regarding potential placements.
  5. Pre-service teachers undertake the specified number of practicum days in whole days in conjunction with the professional experience unit and during the timetabled/scheduled dates. Failure to complete the specified number of days or failure to complete the number of days within a week of the placement dates or an unsatisfactory assessment will lead to the result for that placement being entered as a "fail" (N). An "N" result means a pre-service teacher is excluded from the course and is referred to the APDC who make the final decision as to whether a pre-service teacher can continue with their course or not. A failure of the practicum component will result in a failure of the whole Professional Experience unit.
  6. Professional experience is supervised (by a qualified teacher) professional practice in an educational setting, organised and documented by the Professional Experience Office at the University, in accordance with course requirements.
  7. Professional experience commitments take precedence over ANY paid work being undertaken by the pre-service teachers; schools/centres/settings are not obliged to take into consideration pre-service teachers paid work commitments. No placement is to take place in a workplace.
  8. Practicums during the 'alternative dates' - Practicums in schools during these dates (February and October) can be difficult to arrange as the dates coincide with hectic/disrupted periods in a school's year. Pre-service teachers must provide reasons in writing if a placement during the 'alternative dates' on the timetable is requested. A February or October alternative practicum request requires pre-service teacher to directly contact the Deakin University Professional Experience Officer. Please note that country practicums may be undertaken during these dates, after discussion with a Professional Experience Officer and in advance of the 'normal' practicum dates.
  9. School principals have the discretion and authority to tell pre-service teachers to remove themselves from the school grounds and not return. Pre-service teachers to whom this occurs will be excluded and referred to the APDC as the principal's decision is regarded as a "fail".
  10. If a pre-service teacher must vary the practicum arrangements as planned or cannot meet the expectations for the practicum unit code in which they are enrolled, it is the pre-service teacher's responsibility to contact the Professional Experience Office urgently.
  11. While on professional experience placements, pre-service teachers will be working on integrated assessment activities. As part of these tasks, pre-service teachers may be asked to interview or survey staff or children or video some children - there are permission notes for such activities to be found.

    Permission letter for recording or photographing for schools
    Parent/guardian permission letter for early childhood general activities

Enrolment

Pre-service teachers must:

  • Enroll in the professional experience unit codes in sequential order
  • notify the Professional Experience Office of any change of address, transport and course arrangements
  • complete the number of days as specified for the practicum unit and during the timetabled dates. Failure to complete the number of days specified for the code could lead to an 'N' result.
  • Withdraw from the unit/s if the placement is not being undertaken.

Notify the Professional Experience Office if the placement you are withdrawing from is due to start within 6 weeks. The PEO should be contacted even if the withdrawal from the practicum unit is done before the university census date or if the withdrawal is done on-line. Failure to withdraw from a unit not undertaken will result in a result of 'XN' and possible referral to the Academic Progress and Discipline Committee (APDC).

Special Consideration and Practicums

In general, an application for special consideration (granted in the case of serious medical or other disruption) can only be dealt with in one of 2 ways: either by withdrawal from the professional experience unit code or by having the placement postponed (and completed within the same year). The Special Consideration application must be submitted as per Faculty rules and students must contact the Deakin University Professional Experience Office urgently.

Please refer to http://www.deakin.edu.au/students/assessments/special-consideration

Credit for Prior Learning

Credit for Prior Learning for school placements- there is no recognition for advanced standing for:

  • Paid or unpaid work as a qualified or unqualified teacher or teacher aide.
  • Any teaching undertaken that was not concurrent with studies in education.
  • Unsupervised teaching practice or teaching practice that was not organised as part of a course in teacher education.
  • Teaching practice organised as part of a teaching course that is not fully documented.
  • Voluntary work as a teacher aide or voluntary work in a school.

Resolving Practicum Issues

During practicum, on occasion issues arise and it is important that these are dealt with in an appropriate manner. If the pre service teacher perceives that an issue needs resolution please follow the appropriate protocol.

For Pre-Service Teachers

If the pre-service teacher and the supervising teacher are not able to resolve any difficulties that occur, the FIRST person a pre-service teacher should contact is the Coordinator of Pre-service Teachers within the school, or the director of a centre. This is because conflicts are best resolved at the level closest to where they are occurring, and not by an "outside" party being involved early. This does not prevent any of the parties contacting the Professional Experience Office for advice regarding issues that may have arisen.
If the Pre-service teacher does not feel confident with discussing the issue with the school coordinator/director, please contact the Professional Experience Office to be advised and guided how to proceed.
It is important that any issue arising is dealt with as early as possible. It is often a communication problem, which can be resolved smoothly. Please do not hesitate to contact the Professional Experience Office if you have any concerns.

For Supervising Teachers

It is crucial that the supervising teacher or the coordinator of pre-service teachers/director notifies the Professional Experience Office as soon as possible if a pre-service teacher is experiencing difficulties. Ideally, the Professional Experience Office should be contacted as soon as a problem is identified, following consultation with the coordinator of pre-service teachers at the school. If there is concern that a pre-service teacher might not be able to satisfy the requirements of the practicum, the Professional Experience Office MUST be contacted and an academic staff member will contact the school or setting.

Cancellations

Once a practicum has started, pre-service teachers/directors are not able to withdraw without providing a medical certificate to the Professional Experience Office as soon as difficulties arise, regardless of the date for withdrawal for units in that semester. If a pre-service teacher cannot undertake the placement during the timetabled/scheduled dates he/she must consult with the Professional Experience Officer at the earliest possible opportunity. Late notification of cancelled placements adversely affects the University's relationship with schools.Special Consideration And Practicums

In general, an application for special consideration (granted in the case of serious medical or other disruption) can only be dealt with in one of 2 ways: either by withdrawal from the professional experience unit code or by having the placement postponed (and completed within the same year). The Special Consideration application must be submitted as per Faculty rules and students must contact the Deakin University Professional Experience Office urgently.

Illness

If a pre-service teacher is sick during a placement - they must:

  • ring the school and Deakin University Professional Experience Office as soon as possible.
  • if absent for more than 2 days obtain and provide a medical certificate to the school and a copy to the Deakin University Professional Experience Office.
  • arrange to make up the missed days as soon as possible.

School and Centre Visits

Deakin academic staff or members of the professional experience liaison team will visit or contact the school during most placements. In addition, visits, support and advice are available by contacting the Professional Experience Office or the academic direct. Visits can be arranged at the request of the school or the pre-service teacher.

Practicum Clashes

If you have, or perceive there maybe, a clash between any academic requirement (such as for performing arts units or science prac. classes) and your need to commit to a Professional Experience placement then please contact your placement officer about possibly changing the timing of the placement. It is important that such contact be made as early as possible to enable the alternative arrangements to be discussed and cancellation of any prearranged placements can be utilised for others or the request can be withdrawn in a timely manner as far as the school is concerned. Unless you contact the placement officer at least 3 months in advance of the placement, the likelihood of being able to move placements becomes more difficult.

Rural or Other Special Placements

The Professional Experience Office will facilitate placements in rural Victoria and/or interstate where possible. Some subsidies are available from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for pre-service teachers who undertake specific practicums in a rural or hard-to-staff schools/centres in Victoria. Please contact the Professional Experience Office for more information on this.

International Placements must be discussed with the Deakin University Professional Experience Office. Pre-service teachers should talk to a placement officer if they would like to undertake:

  • alternative setting, Special Schools, environmental education centres etc. or
  • primary pre-service teacher interested in a placement with a specialist teacher (ie the Art, Music or Phys Ed teacher.

Global Experience Placement

Pre-service teachers who commit to a global experience placement must inform the Deakin University Professional Experience Office. If there is any change in the arrangements, it is the pre-service teacher's responsibility to inform the Deakin University Professional Experience Officer. Failure to do so will mean that pre-service teachers might not be placed for the next time-tabled placement, which could delay qualifying for their degree.

Lesson Preparation

Lessons should be prepared either at home or in "free time" (NOT when observing the class or otherwise involved in the supervising teacher's daily routine).
Planning and preparation are vital for the adequate structuring of lessons. All pre-service teachers are to:

  • plan lessons thoroughly using an agreed format. Reources has a sample lesson plan or schools may have a preferred format.
  • discuss their planning with the supervising teacher/s prior to the lesson.
  • have organised resources and aids prior to the lesson.
  • Pre-service teachers must give the supervising teacher/s copies of lesson plans in advance to allow for alterations/discussions to take place.

Privacy Agreements

A school might ask a pre-service teacher to sign a "privacy agreement". Pre-service teachers must observe the obligation to maintain all confidences both during AND after the placement.

Legal Status

Pre-service teachers have no legal status in the classroom or other school setting and must have a supervising teacher when teaching a lesson. Pre-service teachers are not to be left alone with sole responsibility for the class or a group of students or be on yard duty without other teachers present.

Camps

Up to 5 days can be counted as practicum days if the camp falls during the practicum period. Please contact the Placement Office if clarification is needed.

Excursions

Excursions can be included as part of the required number of days if the supervising teacher approves participation in the excursion and is willing to "count" it as one of the placement days.

Harassment In The Workplace

Harassment is any form of behaviour that is not wanted, not asked for and/or not returned that humiliates, offends or intimidates someone, and that happens because of their race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability, sexual preference or age. Pre-service teachers should be very aware of their own behaviour and find out the centre or school's procedures for reporting and dealing with harassment.

If a pre-service teacher is harassed while on professional experience placement they should, in the first instance, raise the issue with their supervisor. If this is not appropriate or possible, the pre-service teacher can contact the Professional Experience Manager or Coordinator. Alternatively, the pre-service teacher can refer to the Student Complaint process, available from http://www.deakin.edu.au/current-students/services/complaints/

Pre-Service Teachers with A Disability

Pre-service teachers with a disability (which under the Australian Government Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) includes present, past, future and imputed physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological, malformation or disfigurement, the presence of disease causing organisms in the body) who have identified themselves with the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) are able to take advantage of the provision of reasonable adjustments to assist them to participate in professional experience placements on the same basis as other pre-service teachers. Adjustments are measures or actions taken to assist a pre-service teacher with a disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other pre-service teachers, eg the provision of a sighted aide for a visually impaired pre-service teacher. This provision can only be provided if the pre-service teacher has registered with DRC.
For more details regards the processes that are in place to support pre-service teachers who have registered with DRC please contact the Professional Experience Office.

Mandatory Reporting

Pre-service teachers are NOT prescribed as mandatory reporters. They should discuss issues of mandatory reporting with the supervising teacher and must inform the supervising teacher, principal or student well-being coordinator of any disclosure made to them by school students while on placements.
Mandated reporters include principals and teachers. Mandated staff must make a report to the Department of Human Services Child Protection as soon as practicable after forming a belief on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is in need of protection from significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse, and the child's parents are unable or unwilling to protect the child.
Definitions of Child Abuse and indicator of harm include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect abuse
  • Medical Neglect
  • Family Violence
  • Female Genital Mutilation

More information about the above can be found on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Education website here and on the Department of Human Services website here.

Industrial Action Taken By Teachers:

On days when teachers are undertaking industrial action, pre-service teachers should:

  • Attend school/centres as normal unless instructed by the pre-service teacher coordinator or the Principal not to do so.
  • Not take classes unless supervised by a teacher.
  • Not take classes of teachers taking industrial action.
  • Avoid becoming involved in local industrial action.
  • One "strike" day can be counted towards the number of days of school experience. Pre-service teachers who are members of the union should act according to union recommendations.

Insurance

The Professional Experience Office must be notified if an accident occurs on a practicum placement. A written report will be requested.
Where a pre-service teacher is injured while on a practicum coverage is provided by the Deakin University personal accident insurance policy; pre-service teachers can obtain claim forms from the Student Association, from the University Insurance Office or online at -http://www.deakin.edu.au/business-industry/wil/insurance.php
The University's Public Liability Policy provides insurance cover against claims made by third parties for bodily injury and/or damage. There is also insurance cover for public liability for Host Organisations/Employers.
Please note that none of these policies covers the loss of or damage to a pre-service teacher's personal property, including car parked in school carparks.

Volunteer Days/Field Work

The 20 'additional days' are 'voluntary' days that pre-service teachers complete in addition to the Professional Experience placement organised as part of their course. It is highly recommended but not mandatory to complete these days. These additional days need to be documented and included in a pre-service teacher's portfolio. Prospective education employers will be looking for evidence of interest in, and enthusiasm for teaching and school-age students beyond formally organised Professional Experience, including with evidence of involvement in work with school age students as a coach, scout or church or youth group leader etc.; school-based research for a curriculum unit; visits to classes to undertake particular projects; relevant industry experience (e.g. teacher aide position), attendance at camps and/or holiday programs.

Reports And Results

Reports are the culmination of the pre-service teacher's learning while on Professional Experience placement. The evaluation process includes written notes made during the lessons and given to the pre-service teacher by the supervising teacher/s as well as formal and informal discussions between the pre-service teacher and supervising teacher/s. The final report should not contain any surprises. Pre-service teachers should take the opportunity to discuss their report with the supervising teacher/s. When a pre-service teacher signs the report, it is ONLY an indication that it has been read (not necessarily agreed with). The practicum must be completed satisfactorily before the next professional experience unit can be attempted.
All pre-service teachers should get a copy of their practicum report once it has been completed so they can include it in their portfolio.

Practicum embedded within academic units.
Pre-service teachers will not be able to proceed to the next professional experience unit until both the academic and practicum components of the current one have been passed.

Student results for stand-alone practicum units are:
UP - a satisfactory Professional Experience placement.
N - a fail grade because:

  • the number of days for the practicum unit has not been completed
  • a student has been assessed as 'Unsatisfactory'
  • a school has asked for a student to leave the placement school.

XA - a report has not been received by the University by the date for submission of results.
XN - failure to undertake/attend a practicum for which a student is enrolled.

When a school or centre has serious concerns about the work of a student teacher and feels that she/he is facing an assessment of 'At Risk' or 'Unsatisfactory' then the school is asked to contact the Professional Experience Office who will arrange for a Deakin University staff member to contact the school/centre. A student cannot be given an Unsatisfactory grade without the involvement of a Deakin University staff member. It is crucial that the university is contacted as soon as a problem is identified.
After one unsatisfactory assessment for a practicum the pre-service teacher can be excluded and referred to the APDC to show cause why he/she should not be excluded from further enrolment.

At-Risk Assessment

'At Risk' assessment: A pre-service teacher deemed to be 'At Risk' must demonstrate that they have followed advice from an academic staff member to address the problems identified in the 'At Risk' report prior to their next placement. A pre-service teacher could be required to undertake further experience or will be permitted to complete the subsequent placement under close monitoring.

Process of Appeals

If pre-service teachers have any concerns about the placement process, please consult your placement officer or the Manager, Ian Trend.

University Records

Please note that the University keeps the original copies of the reports for 3 years (after a pre-service teacher has graduated) and for 7 years (where a pre-service teacher has intermitted or discontinued). After this time the reports are destroyed.

 

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