What should the trainee be doing in a pre-block experience?
Both school placements include a period of school-based pre-block experience which provides an opportunity to introduce trainees to the school and department in which they will be working, gives them experiences that link work done in their University with classroom practice, and prepares them for their teaching on the block experience.
Work on the pre-block will also begin to give the trainees experiences that provide evidence for working towards the Teachers' Standards (TS).
During the pre-block in both schools, trainees should
- have meetings with the PCM;
- observe of a range of classes and teachers within their subject area – including classes that they will teach;
- act as support teacher with the normal class teacher, planning for individual needs;
- try micro-teaching (if the trainee feels confident enough), then teaching of small groups of pupils would be appropriate (this may only be for part of a lesson);
- work to develop their subject knowledge;
- and gather data about the school.
How much time should the trainee be working in the classroom?
The following section contains guidelines about the allocation of classes to a PGCE trainee, but these may be varied considerably to suit an individual trainee’s stage of development and needs.
In order for trainees to have maximum opportunity to get to know the classes they will be teaching, it is very helpful if they can be given their timetable as early as possible in the placement; this will allow them to focus their observations, planning and preparation. This applies to both placements.
Foundation phase (autumn term)
The first block school experience provides an opportunity for the trainees to experience what it means to be a teacher and to begin to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills, as defined in the TS.
Mentors should recognise that, depending on trainees’ backgrounds, they will bring a diverse range of previous experience in all of these areas and that this will influence their abilities and development needs.
- Where possible trainees should take approximately 30% of a main professional scale teacher’s timetable, i.e. on a typical 25-period week this would mean a timetable of 7 or 8 periods actual teaching, though some trainees may start on considerably less time (see Need for flexibility below).
- A further 30% or so should be used either for in-class supportive work or for further focused observation.
- The remainder is for working on the block school experience file, planning lessons, preparation, pupil assessment and self-evaluation.
- Where possible, schools are asked to provide experience of all 11-19 phases appropriate to the subject option.
Trainees are encouraged to be attached to a tutor group during the first placement so that they begin to see what the form tutor’s role consists of. They are not required to take on any specific duties, though some may like to start to carry out some functions.
Need for flexibility:
- This model may be appropriate for some trainees; however, not all of them will be ready for this amount of whole-class teaching at this early stage.
- During the initial weeks they may act in a supporting role with the class teacher, and undertake focused observation, teaching of small groups or team-teaching.
- The start of whole-class teaching should depend on the confidence and readiness of the trainee. When the trainee assumes responsibility for teaching classes, the usual class teacher will always be close at hand and will take a supportive role in lesson planning and in the preparation of materials.
- While most trainees will start whole-class teaching in the week after half term at the latest, some may need a more gradual introduction to this.
- Where there are two trainees from the same subject in a school, they may work collaboratively.
- If there are any doubts about timetable arrangements, please refer to the PCM or the University tutor.
Developmental / Consolidation phases
In order for trainees to build on their first experience and to meet the Teachers' Standards in full, timetable demands on the second placement are greater.
- Where possible, approximately 60% of a main professional scale teacher's timetable should normally be allocated to trainees for contact with pupils, i.e. 14/15 periods out of a typical 25-period week.
- An additional 10-15% should be used either for in-class supportive work with other teachers or for further focused observation.
- The remainder is for working on planning, preparation, assessment and evaluation and meeting the needs of the PGCE element of the course, individual targets and training needs, and on school-based assignments and research tasks.
- Where provision for Post-16 education and primary liaison can exist, it is vital that trainees are given experience. This may be through whole-class teaching, team-teaching, micro-teaching or focused observation and visits to other institutions as appropriate.
Trainees MUST be attached to a form group for this placement, and should start to assume some of the responsibilities of a form tutor.
Please note: as with the Foundation Phase, a few trainees may not be ready to go straight into taking on the full teaching commitment, so Mentors should be prepared to allow for a more gradual introduction in the second school. Subject Mentors should also review the timetable at the end of the Developmental Phase with a view to making any desirable adjustments that would further enhance the trainee’s attainment against the TS, e.g. by giving them challenging opportunities that will enable them to further develop and demonstrate their skills.