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Professional Placement

Beginning in the semester 1 of the first year of study, all Teacher Education students observe and participate in classrooms in local schools and other educational settings.  Year 3 and 4 BEd (Hons) and PGCE students have a variety of opportunities to observe and teach in national and international classrooms.  These real-classroom experiences, completed in conjunction with university coursework, help students integrate educational theory, research, and classroom practice.  Under guidance of tutors, students explore innovative examples of teaching and class orgainsation, analyse the techniques and skills which teachers need to develop, and plan activities which may be undertaken in school.

Practical experience in classrooms is essential to any programme of teacher preparation; therefore, you will spend a considerable portion of each academic year on placement.  The aim of the school-based programme is to enable students to develop the basic skills, attitudes and insights required to become a competent teacher.  We have a large number of successful partnerships with primary, post-primary, special schools, regional colleges and other education related contexts, making it possible to offer you a wide range of experiences.  Individual placement occurs as students progress in their studies, where the College tutor is both critical friend and assessor.

Students find work in schools challenging and interesting - although it can be exhausting!  Students find that the rewards in term of personal satisfication are high.

We are very conscious that some students who arrive in the University College can have a rather narrow range of experience of schools of different management types and we are keen to introduce them to a variety of schools from the outset.  Students will have opportunities to visit a range of schools with their peers in order to explore examples of good practice in creating an inclusive whole school environment and in relation to the curriculum, learning and teaching.

Our current placement portfolio also includes a number of multi-disciplinary contexts where students will have opportunities: to work in parallel with related professional groups; to undertake a period of placement in an international setting; and to undertake a placement in one of our partner schools in Kent, England.

Alternative Settings   

In addition all BEd students complete an Alternative Placement in their final year.  This programme, now in its eighth year, aims to provide opportunities for our year 4 students:

  • To appreciate the transferability of the personal and professional skills they have already developed through their degree.
  • To develop new skills and broaden their knowledge base in different educational contexts.
  • To realise the breadth of career opportunities available upon graduation with a teaching qualification.

 In 2012-2013 a total of 128 year 4 primary and post-primary students spent two weeks in 97 host organisations - 33 of which were new to the programme.  The placements were varied, ranging from the Mencap nursery to the NI Assembly, from Citybeat to Love for Life, from Christian Aid to W5, from the Careers Service to the Donkey Sanctuary, and from working with the RSPB in Northern Ireland to teaching children in remote parts of Ethiopia.  The programme receives very positive feedback from students and host organisations every year.