Policies and guidelines

The success of the placement is dependent upon strong positive relationships between all stakeholders. Deakin University Professional Experience 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 policy and guidelines to ensure clarity in all processes incorporated during placement. Please contact the PEO if you have queries or are unclear about any situation.

Purpose of Professional Experience

Professional Experience is at the core of all pre-service teacher education courses. Productive professional learning for pre-service teachers occurs when the university is able to work collaboratively with placement settings and their personnel to ensure quality on-site learning components for pre-service teachers within each course.
Professional Experience will provide pre-service teachers with opportunities to develop their personal teaching skills and professional understandings in educational settings and both integrate and augment university coursework
It is undoubtedly a most significant aspect of teacher education because it provides the major opportunity for pre-service teachers to draw together the more theoretical aspects of their learning with those aspects that are more explicitly orientated towards the professional practice of the teacher.
The broad purpose of the Professional Experience components of the Faculty programs is to provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to:

  • Broaden their experience, understanding and appreciation of the realities of schooling and of the nature, needs and capacities of young people;
  • Progressively develop effective teaching and management skills;
  • Enhance their capacity to construct, implement and evaluate programs of appropriate learning experiences;
  • Develop an understanding and an appreciation of the role of teachers within both the school and its community, and to
  • Develop a reflective understanding of the ways in which as pre-service teachers they are constituting their own sense of professional teacher identity.

School-based placements and learning experiences also provide opportunities for experienced professionals in schools to make authentic assessments of a pre-service teacher’s suitability, performance and effectiveness as a beginning teacher, appropriate to be a future member of the teaching profession.

Pre-placement briefings

At the beginning of each year, each cohort will be required to attend a pre-placement briefing.  These usually take place one or two weeks prior to the start of the placement.  Students should refer to timetables for the week of their pre-placement briefing.  Students will be emailed details of the placement closer to the commencement date.  Attendance is compulsory with a hurdle task to be completed.  The sessions have a different focus each year and important information relevant to each cohort is distributed.

Placement arrangements

  • All placements are organised by the Professional Experience Office. Pre-service teachers are placed within approximately 60 minutes of the address on In Place (the Placement database) - taking into account private/public transport.  That is why it is essential that the Professional Experience Office be informed of any change of a student’s Term address as soon as possible. It may be necessary for pre-service teachers with some secondary teaching methods to travel for longer than one hour.
  • Students will not be placed at a school for placement if the PEO feels that a situation could effect the relationships between the university and the school or effect the integrity of one or more parties involved. Examples could be, where a pre service teacher has children/siblings/relatives/ at a school, or a place of current employment, or if it is a former school of the pre-service secondary students.
  • 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.
  • 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 either directly or indirectly regarding potential placements.
  • Pre-service teachers undertake the specified number of placement 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 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 placement component will result in a failure of the whole Professional Experience unit.
  • 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.
  • Professional experience commitments take precedence over ANY paid work being undertaken by the pre-service teachers; schools are not obliged to take into consideration pre-service teachers paid work commitments.
  • Placements during the 'alternative dates' - Placements 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 Office. Please note that country placements may be undertaken during these dates, after discussion with a Professional Experience Officer and in advance of the 'normal' practicum dates.
  • 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”.
  • If a pre-service teacher must vary the practicum arrangements as planned or cannot meet the expectations for the placement unit code in which they are enrolled, it is the pre-service teacher’s responsibility to contact the Professional Experience Office urgently.
  • 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, on the PEO Website.

Guidelines for arranging interstate placements

  • Pre-service teachers residing outside of Victoria should contact the Professional Experience (PE) Office by email once enrolled in the Professional Experience Unit and prior to the enrolment cut-off date for that unit.  They should provide the PE Office with the appropriate WWCC and/or other documentation required for placements in their state.  If unaware of requirements in their state, the PEO will provide information for students.
  • When a WWCC application receipt has been received by the PE Office, pre-service teachers can then email a list of 6 schools they are interested in undertaking placement within.
  • The PE Office will determine if there are any pre-existing Deakin relationships with schools/centres from the list supplied.
  • The PE Office will then email each school with the pre-service teacher's name as an introduction and advise the school that the pre-service teacher may be in contact directly to discuss the possibility of a placement.  The PE Office will advise the pre-service teacher when contact has been made.
  • After discussion takes place and an in-principle agreement from the school/centre is given, the pre-service teacher should complete and supply the PE Office the placement form, giving details of the school/centre, proposed placement dates and a school/centre contact name and email address.
  • The formal placement agreement will be sent to the school/centre by the PE Office and a package of advice on requirements of the placement will be supplied for the mentor teacher.

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 teachers responsibility to make themselves fully aware of the Code.

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 Pre Service Teacher Coordinator at the school in the week prior to the commencement of the placement, and find out the name of the supervising teacher/s. An appointment is then made to visit the school and discuss the arrangements for the placement with the supervising teacher/s.
  • On the first visit to the school, establish the dates, times and timetable for attendance at the school in discussion with the supervising teacher.
  • Act as a professional at all times; dress and language should be appropriate to the school context and as a teacher. be punctual and notify the school if running late (they must arrive at the school at the time as discussed with the supervising teacher). discuss with the supervising teacher the time to leave.
  • Accompany the supervising teacher to all meetings, yard duty, school events etc.
  • Mix with other pre-service teacher and teaching staff.
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality and discretion in relation to the staff, pre-service teachers and school policies;
  • Pre-service teachers are visitors in schools and therefore should 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 at the school in a sealed envelope. This ensures that the school has contact details in the event of an emergency.

Enrolment

The pre-service teacher should:

  • 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 placement 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 placement 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).
  • 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 or any 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.

Cancellations

Once a placement has started, pre-service teachers 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 difficulties arise during placement that are not related to ill health the pre-service teacher must contact the PEO to discuss what alternatives are available. Pre-service teachers cannot cancel their own placement. 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.

Resolving placement issues

During placement, 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.

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.  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, 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 are resolved smoothly. Please do not hesitate to contact the Professional experience office if you have any concerns.

Pre-service teacher experiencing difficulties: It is crucial that the supervising teacher or the coordinator of pre-service teachers 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.

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 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. 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.

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. “Resources” located on the Professional Experience Clouddeakin website 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 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 placement 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 www.deakin.edu.au/students/student-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 their 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

Industrial action taken by teachers

On days when teachers are undertaking industrial action, pre-service teachers should:
Attend school 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 Student Personal Accident insurance policy. Pre-service teachers can obtain claim forms from the Deakin University Student Association or from the Deakin University Insurance Office. You can find more information about Deakin's insurance policies under the 'Insurance' heading on the Offer internships and work experience page.
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.

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.

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 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.  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
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 teachers 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. If required matters can be referred to the academic Unit Chair.

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