Policies and guidelines for pre-service teachers
The success of the placement is dependent upon strong positive relationships between all stakeholders. Deakin’s Professional Experience Office (PEO) works closely with our settings to ensure our pre-service teachers have access to a 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 works 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.
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 strongly advised. The sessions have a different focus each year and important information relevant to each cohort is distributed.
- All placements are organised by the Professional Experience Office. You will be placed within approximately 60 minutes of the address on In Place (the placement database), taking into account private/public transport. For this reason, it is essential that the Professional Experience Office be informed of any change of a student’s 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 affect the relationship between the university and the school or affect the integrity of one or more parties involved. Examples could be, where you have children/siblings/relatives/ at a school, or a place of current employment, or if it is a former school of the pre-service secondary student.
- The Deakin Professional Experience Office commences the placement process 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. If your appeal is approved you may not be able to be placed as per the scheduled dates and may 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. You should not contact schools either directly or indirectly regarding potential placements.
- You are to 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 you are excluded from the course and is referred to FAPIC who make the final decision as to whether you can continue your course. 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 you are undertaking. Schools are not obliged to take into consideration your paid work commitments.
Conduct during professional experience placement
As a pre-service teacher, you must abide by, and ensure your behaviour is in accordance with, the Victorian Institute of Teaching Code of Conduct.
It is your responsibility to make yourself 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 and 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
- promote public confidence in the teaching profession.
In addition, you 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 will then be made to visit the school and discuss the arrangements for the placement with the supervising teacher/s
- on your 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) appropriate to the school context and as a teacher
- be punctual and notify the school if running late (you must arrive at the school at the time agreed 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
- ask about car parking, use of photocopiers, and use of the library
- check on payment for tea, coffee, milk and take a mug.
An emergency contact form is located under forms. You should complete the form 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.
- enrol 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 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 online. Failure to withdraw from a unit not undertaken will result in a result of ‘XN’ and possible referral to the Faculty Academic Progress and Integrity Committee (FAPIC).
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.
Once a placement has started, you 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, you must contact the PEO to discuss available alternatives. You cannot cancel their own placement. If you 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
On occasion, issues arise during placement and it is important that these are dealt with in an appropriate manner.
If you perceive that an issue needs resolution, please follow the appropriate protocol.
If you and the supervising teacher are not able to resolve any difficulties that occur, the first person you 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 you do 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 can be resolved easily. 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 may 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.
Missed days or illness
Any days missed during a placement, including public holidays must be made up so that pre-service teachers complete the total amount of days required for the placement unit they are enrolled in.
If you are sick during a placement you must:
- ring the school and Deakin 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 Professional Experience Office
- arrange to make up the missed days as soon as possible.
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 by yourself.
If you have, or perceive there may be a clash between any academic requirement (such as for performing arts units or science practical classes) and you need to commit to a Professional Experience placement, 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 Professional Experience Office.
You should talk to a placement officer if you would like to undertake:
- an alternative setting such as a special school or environmental education centre
- a placement with a specialist teacher (i.e. the art, music or physical education teacher).
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 should:
- plan lessons thoroughly using an agreed format. ‘Resources’ located on the Professional Experience CloudDeakin website has a sample lesson plan or some 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
- must give the supervising teacher/s copies of lesson plans in advance to allow for alterations/discussions to take place.
A school may ask you to sign a ‘privacy agreement’. You must observe the obligation to maintain all confidences both during and after the placement.
Pre-service teachers have no legal status in the classroom and must have a supervising teacher when teaching a lesson. You 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.
Up to five 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 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 orientation or age. You should be very aware of your own behaviour and find out the centre or school’s procedures for reporting and dealing with harassment.
If you are harassed while on professional experience placement you should, in the first instance, raise the issue with your supervisor. If this is not appropriate or possible, you can contact the Team Leader, Professional Experience. Alternatively, you can refer to the Student Complaint process on Deakin’s website.
Pre-service teachers with a disability
If you have 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) and have identified yourself with the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) you may take advantage of the provision of reasonable adjustments to assist you to participate in professional experience placements on the same basis as other pre-service teachers. Adjustments are measures or actions taken to assist you with a disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other pre-service teachers, e.g. the provision of a sighted aide if you are visually impaired. This provision can only be provided if you have registered with DRC.
For more details regards the processes that are in place to support pre-service teachers who have registered with the DRC, please contact the Professional Experience Office.
Pre-service teachers are not prescribed as mandatory reporters. You should discuss issues of mandatory reporting with your supervising teacher and must inform the supervising teacher, principal or student wellbeing coordinator of any disclosure made to you 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, you 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. If you are a member of the union, you should act according to union recommendations.
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 Student Personal Accident Insurance policy. You can obtain claim forms from the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) or from Deakin's insurance office. You can find more information about Deakin's insurance policies under 'insurance' on the Offer internships and work experience webpage.
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 your personal property, including car parked in school carparks.
Reports and results
Reports are the culmination of your learning while on professional experience placement. The evaluation process includes written notes made during the lessons and given to you by the supervising teacher/s as well as formal and informal discussions between yourself and the supervising teacher/s. The final report should not contain any surprises. You should take the opportunity to discuss your report with the supervising teacher/s. When you sign 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.
You should get a copy of your practicum report once it has been completed so you can include it in your portfolio.
Placement is embedded within academic units.
Student results can include:
- RI – result has been withheld. A report has not been received by the University by the date for submission of results
- 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
- a student has not met the academic requirements of the unit.
- 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 staff member to contact the school. A student cannot be given an unsatisfactory grade without the involvement of a Deakin staff member. It is crucial that the University is contacted as soon as a problem is identified.
After one unsatisfactory assessment for a practicum you can be excluded and referred to FAPIC to show cause why he/she should not be excluded from further enrolment.
'At Risk' assessment
If you are deemed to be 'at risk' you must demonstrate that you have followed advice from an academic staff member to address the problems identified in the 'at risk' report prior to your next placement. You could be required to undertake further experience or will be permitted to complete the subsequent placement under close monitoring.
Process of appeals
If you have any concerns about the placement process, please consult the Team Leader, Professional Experience. If required, matters can be referred to the academic unit chair.