FAQs for Teacher Education Students

FAQs for Teacher Education Students

Three

Who needs to know if my contact details change?

If your contact details change during your enrolment you must inform the University, through following its guidelines, and the Professional Experience Office of your new contact details.

What if I change my mind about enrolling in the unit after I have completed a preference form?

If you decide to withdraw from the unit prior to your placement, please contact the Professional Experience Office so they can inform the setting and the Tertiary Supervisor.

Can I undertake a placement in my place of work?

Although workplace placements are not encouraged, you can request to undertake one such placement during the final year of your program. A request must be lodged in the semester before this placement is due to commence otherwise it will not be considered. Please contact the Professional Experience Office for further details on how to lodge a request. This will be forwarded to the relevant unit convenor for consideration. 

Clearly, in some cases, your interests as a Teacher Education Student and those of your employer are both served by permitting the workplace placement. However, this may not be the case in all circumstances. You need to carefully analyse the advantages and disadvantages of working as a Teacher Education Student in your own setting before making an application. Please note: 

  • Some employers, particularly local councils, do not permit staff to undertake workplace placements. 
  • You should not expect to be able to carry your workload as a paid employee as well as completing all the requirements of Professional Experience. For this reason, you are discouraged from simultaneously undertaking the dual roles of Teacher Education Student and worker in a centre or school during Professional Experience as these two roles may be incompatible and jeopardise completion of Professional Experience requirements. 
  • Permission to undertake a workplace placement will not be granted unless there is a qualified teacher in the workplace to act as a Supervising Teacher. 
  • This option is not available for Teacher Education Students who are centre owners, centre directors or certified supervisors. 
  • The potential convenience of a workplace placement needs to be balanced against the possibility of difficulties with particular staff members or the embarrassment of failure.

Careful consideration is given to all Teacher Education Students applying for this type of placement. Approval is not guaranteed. The Professional Experience Office will advise you of the outcome of your request. Approval will only be given for one Professional Experience workplace placement during your final year of enrolment in the program.

Can I undertake Professional Experience? 

if I have a close connection to staff or children? No. Teacher Education Students are not permitted to undertake a Professional Experience placement where they have a close personal connection with staff or children. In particular, they are not permitted to undertake Professional Experience in a centre or school attended by their child or children, their relatives, or children of their friends.

Can I go to a centre/preschool/school for more than one placement?

No. Teacher Education Students may not attend the same centre or school for more than one block of Professional Experience. A wide range of experiences is essential.

Why travel for Professional Experience Placement?

Teacher Education Students can expect to travel to attend placements. It is essential for Teacher Education Students to have experience working with children from a range of different backgrounds in various communities. The advantages of varied field experiences far outweigh the possible short-term disadvantages associated with travelling beyond the local community. Teacher Education Students will not be able to request a change of placement based on locality and length of travel time.

Can I participate in a country placement? 

There are possible opportunities for Teacher Education Students to complete a country placement for 300- and 400-level units. Permission to complete a country placement depends on the availability of suitably qualified Supervising Teachers and Tertiary Supervisors. A request must be lodged in the semester before this placement is due to commence otherwise it will not be considered. Please contact the Professional Experience Office for further details on how to lodge a request. You must have had a successful Professional Experience record at 100- and 200-level to be considered for a country placement. Metropolitan Teacher Education Students can only undertake one country placement. If you are a Teacher Education Student who lives in the country, the limit of one country placement does not apply.

What if I have a previous or existing injury, significant disability or mental health issue? Or I am pregnant or planning a pregnancy? 

Health and wellbeing concerns may impact on the Teacher Education Student’s ability to complete the requirements for placement and may involve further discussion to determine the best course of action. Our concern is for your health and wellbeing and ensuring that your placement is able to accommodate you. Teacher Education Students are advised to make an appointment before census date in semester to discuss their health and wellbeing concerns with the relevant Professional Experience unit convenor. Teacher Education Students who are pregnant or planning pregnancy, refer to further information in section “What do I need to do if I am pregnant and undertaking Professional Experience?” 

Teacher Education Students with previous or existing injuries – such as back, shoulder or elbow injuries, or significant disabilities which will impact on the capacity to carry out the requirements of the placement – must inform the Professional Experience Office prior to placement. For Teacher Education Students with injuries, a medical certificate stating that the Teacher Education Student is able to carry out the required duties will need to be provided prior to commencement of placement. The medical certificate must list activities the Teacher Education Student can and cannot do due to their injury. Examples of specific activities could include: manual lifting, standing for considerable time, sitting on the floor with children, supervising children inside and outside, or completing handwritten or word processed documentation.

In all instances the Teacher Education Student is responsible for notifying the director or principal at their placement in relation to their injury, disability, issue or pregnancy, and doing this prior to the placement.

What are the approval processes for working with children?

All Teacher Education Students are required to complete the appropriate approval processes for working with children.  In New South Wales this is the Working with Children Check (WWCC). Teacher Education Students are responsible for ensuring they have completed the necessary documentation for their state or territory and have provided evidence of completion prior to the semester census date, or the date otherwise stated in the unit, in order to receive a placement. Teacher Education Students may need to withdraw from the unit if this has not been completed satisfactorily.

Working with Children numbers (WWC numbers) can be submitted via  https://iparticipate.mq.edu.au . Teacher Education Students are responsible for ensuring any changes to details, such as name or address changes, are also logged. Confirmation of change must also be forwarded to the Professional Experience Office.  Valid WWC numbers are also to be recorded on the Professional Experience folder coversheet. This needs to be available for the centre or school so they can log in to confirm your check.

In New South Wales processes for the WWCC, valid for five years, are as follows.  Visit www.newcheck.kids.nsw.gov.au  to apply online.  A receipt number is issued at the completion of application. This receipt number along with proof of identity documents totalling at least 100 points need to be taken to a Service NSW Centre.

Teacher Education Students completing Professional Experience outside New South Wales will need to complete requirements for that state or territory. For your particular state or territory, visit:

For further assistance contact the Professional Experience Office on (02) 9850 9460.

What are the online training requirements for school-based Professional Experience?

In addition to the Working with Children Check, Teacher Education Students enrolled in Professional Experience units with school placements are required to provide certification of completion of the following training sessions prior to semester census date. Teacher Education Students who do not meet these requirements may not be eligible for a placement. This certification must be current and valid.

Teacher Education Students are responsible for keeping copies of certificates for the duration of their program. The Professional Experience Office will provide opportunities for anaphylaxis practical training throughout the year. Further information will be provided via email from the Professional Experience Office and/or on iLearn for relevant units.

What do I need to do if I am pregnant and undertaking Professional Experience?

If you are pregnant or likely to become pregnant it is crucial that you are aware of the following important information.  Please be realistic and responsible in relation to both your health and the health of your developing child. Professional Experience is physically and emotionally demanding, and your fitness to undertake a placement must be considered carefully in light of a pregnancy. Please feel free to discuss your circumstances with the unit convenor of the Professional Experience unit in which you are enrolled.

If you are pregnant during a Professional Experience placement you are required to obtain a doctor's clearance for participating in the placement. A medical certificate stating that you, the Teacher Education Student, is able to carry out the required duties will need to be provided prior to commencement of placement. A medical certificate must list the activities a Teacher Education Student can and cannot do.  For example, these could include manual lifting, standing for considerable time or sitting on the floor with children/students. The Teacher Education Student is also responsible for notifying the director or principal at their placement prior to Professional Experience.

Pregnant women are not permitted to complete a Professional Experience placement with children under two years of age due to medical risks associated with the virus CMV (Human Cytomegalovirus) in the first trimester of pregnancy. CMV is transmitted between humans, through breast milk, saliva, sexual intercourse and blood. Most healthy adults usually show no symptoms, but some may suffer an illness with symptoms similar to glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis). In adults, acute illness may last two to three weeks, then the virus persists in a latent state. A pregnant woman infected with CMV may transmit the virus across the placenta to her unborn child. A small number of babies thus infected may have symptoms at birth and can suffer long-term complications including damage to the nervous system, learning disability and deafness. Measures for reducing risks associated with CMV include paying scrupulous attention to hygiene such as handwashing. Also particular care should be taken when handling nappies and excreta from babies and children. No vaccine is available at present, but many women are immune through infection in early life.

Who makes the initial contact with the centre or school?

Once the placement is confirmed you are expected to take responsibility for contacting the setting to introduce yourself and to arrange orientation days or a pre-placement meeting as appropriate. The unit convenor will advise you when to commence contacting settings.

Do I wait for my Tertiary Supervisor to contact me?

No. It is your responsibility to make initial contact with your Tertiary Supervisor. Information about Tertiary Supervisors and when it is appropriate to call is most commonly given out during lectures and tutorials. Your attendance at these will help ensure you are up to date with all you need to know. Please check with your Tertiary Supervisor before using SMS messaging as your primary contact method.

Who arranges the time for my Tertiary Supervisor to visit?

It is your responsibility to negotiate an appropriate time with both your Tertiary Supervisor and your Supervising Teacher. Please take care to ensure your Tertiary Supervisor’s visit does not coincide with any other centre or school events such as excursions or special events.

What if I can’t complete my Professional Experience placement on the set dates?

The schedule of Professional Experience placements is carefully planned to suit a number of factors, including access to placements. Special requests outside of the set period are complex and administratively difficult. If you are unable to do the placement in the set period you are advised to withdraw from the unit.

It is possible to request a change of dates for the Professional Experience placement. Permission will only be given in exceptional circumstances. Work and family commitments are not considered sufficient grounds for a change of dates. Teacher Education Students are to request any change of dates in writing, clearly stating the reason, to the convenor of their Professional Experience unit.

How flexible are my hours?

You are expected to attend your placement during the same hours as your Supervising Teacher. In a school placement or a 9am to 3pm preschool, Teacher Education Students are expected to attend for a minimum of seven hours each day, five days a week. In a long day care setting, Teacher Education Students are expected to attend a maximum of eight hours a day, five days a week, undertaking the same shift as their Supervising Teacher. In early childhood settings, Teacher Education Students are not permitted to attend a 10-hour day, four days a week, as it is unrealistic to undertake the daily responsibilities of a Teacher Education Student including written records of orientations, planning and evaluation after a 10-hour shift.

What if I am in a school placement and asked to attend camp with the class?

If you are invited to attend a camp during your placement you are required to seek permission in writing from the Professional Experience convenor for the unit. The request must outline the following information:

  • your name
  • your phone number
  • your mobile phone number
  • your school name and the class on which you are working for your prac
  • the location and dates for the camp
  • the contact phone number provided by school in case of emergency.

We need to ensure that you are covered appropriately by University insurance, and therefore you cannot attend without receiving written approval.

How do I find out about the extent and nature of teaching I am required to do?

Requirements vary depending on which Professional Experience unit you are enrolled in. More detail about the specific requirements for each placement can be found in the Professional Experience Expectations guide and/or supplementary information on iLearn for your Professional Experience unit.

Who is responsible for me when I am on Professional Experience?

Teacher Education Students will be assigned to a Supervising Teacher whilst on placement. In the early childhood setting this will be a person who has completed an early childhood teaching qualification at bachelor degree level and on the ACECQA (Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority) approved list. This does not include anyone holding a waiver or an approval from either ACECQA or a state or territory regulatory body.

Teacher Education Students on primary school placements will be assigned to the classroom teacher.

Who fills in and submits my Evaluation form?

Completing your formal evaluation is the responsibility of your Supervising Teacher. You are required to fill in your own copy as part of your reflective practice but it is the Supervising Teacher’s form that is used for your evaluation and assessment.

It is your responsibility to ensure your evaluation form is submitted to the Professional Experience Office within one week of finishing your placement. Details of how to submit the form can be located on page two of your unit’s Professional Experience Evaluation Report.  Please ensure you keep a copy prior to submitting any hardcopy reports.

What are my responsibilities if I am not able to attend my placement?

In any case of absence you must notify your Supervising Teacher, the centre director, school principal or other designated person no later than 8.30am on the day of absence. You must also notify the Professional Experience Office, contact (02) 9850 9460, and your Tertiary Supervisor as soon as possible. In short, you must make three phone calls: one to your placement, one to your Tertiary Supervisor and one to the Professional Experience Office. If you are unable to make the calls you need to ask a friend or relative to make the calls on your behalf.

You are required to attend every day of your Professional Experience, including any orientation days. A medical certificate is required for any absence due to illness that exceeds one day. Unreliable attendance may be seen as evidence of unprofessional conduct and may result in failure of the Professional Experience unit. Teacher Education Students who are absent for any part of their Professional Experience period will be required to make up whole days. In most circumstances, this requirement must be met within five working days following the end of a block-teaching period.

What if my Supervising Teacher is absent?

The replacement teacher will, usually, act as your Supervising Teacher for the day. If your Supervising Teacher is absent for more than a day or two of your Professional Experience it is important that you inform your Tertiary Supervisor and speak with the principal or director about what arrangements can be made for your supervision. If your Supervising Teacher will be absent on the day of your Tertiary Supervisor’s visit, please contact your Tertiary Supervisor as soon as possible to save time and unnecessary travel on their part. At that time you could discuss arrangements for an alternative date for the Tertiary Supervisor visit.

What procedures are in place for reporting of incidents?

Teacher Education Students engaged in Professional Experience placement sometimes find themselves in complex and unexpected situations. The following information has been prepared to support Teacher Education Students in these circumstances.

Teacher Education Students may witness situations in schools and early childhood settings where they believe that a child may be subject to abuse – whether it be sexual, psychological, physical abuse or neglect. The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 identifies people in the community who are mandatory reporters. This does not include Teacher Education Students on placement in schools and early childhood settings as they are not paid employees and as such are not left alone with the children. Teacher Education Students can see Preventing child abuse & neglect for further information from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services in relation to these matters.

However, Teacher Education Students may witness situations in schools and early childhood settings where they question whether there has been a breach in regulations or perhaps they question behaviour by staff (which does not fall into child protection areas identified above). If you think there are grounds for reporting concerns whilst you are on your placement, the following processes must be adhered to.

The Teacher Education Student is to document their concerns and be sensitive about where this documentation is kept. The Teacher Education Student can discuss their concerns with their Tertiary Supervisor but must contact the unit convenor to discuss the situation. If the Teacher Education Student reaches the decision for notification of the issue, the unit convenor will support this process.  The Director, Initial Teacher Education will be informed of these situations by the unit convenor and will provide advice and guidance on reporting.

What should Teacher Education Students do when issues occur?

It is important for Teacher Education Students to find out about the relationships in their centre or school and know who to speak with in times of necessity. If you’re not sure of anything, ask. If in doubt, check with the director or principal. If that is not appropriate remember you have the Tertiary Supervisor and unit convenor for support and advice.  Teacher Education Students should always contact the Tertiary Supervisor or the unit convenor to discuss any issues that may arise.

It is important to remember:

  • You are a guest in the centre or school and the confidential nature of any information about children or adults must be respected.
  • You must not be left alone with any individual child or group of children. Always remain within view of a member of staff.

What should I do if the qualified early childhood teacher is not present in the centre? 

If the qualified teacher is replaced by another early childhood teacher, that is fine. However, for example, in a situation where the teacher takes annual leave or sick leave and is not replaced with a qualified teacher in the centre you must contact your Tertiary Supervisor for advice and inform the unit convenor about what has occurred.

What happens if I am left on my own with the children?

Let your Tertiary Supervisor know and inform the University by contacting the unit convenor. Teacher Education Students are not to be included in educator to child ratios or left alone with children at any time.

What do I do if I witness a traumatic or distressing event on my Professional Experience?

Contact the unit convenor to arrange for counselling. The University has excellent counselling services available.

What do I do if I observe unethical behaviour?

Seek advice from your Tertiary Supervisor and the unit convenor. Document your concerns and be sensitive about where information is kept

What do I do if I am asked to undertake duties beyond Professional Experience requirements?

Explain that this is not a part of your Professional Experience requirements and discuss the issue with your Tertiary Supervisor or the unit convenor. Examples here would be being asked to fill-in in a childcare centre kitchen when the cook is away, or being asked to collate a newsletter and flyer for each child at a school.

What do I do if I am offered paid work while on my Professional Experience?

In your placement as a Teacher Education Student you are additional to staffing requirements and therefore cannot fulfil the dual role of Teacher Education Student and paid worker. If this occurs please contact your unit convenor for advice. The University must be informed.

How mindful do I need to be about children’s allergies?

You need to be aware of children’s susceptibility to allergic reactions to certain foods and think carefully about what you have eaten before you arrive at the setting and what you have packed in your morning tea and lunch. Please ensure you are aware of and adhere to relevant policies and procedures for children with allergies.

Who is primarily responsible for me on professional experience?

Well, firstly you are. We expect you to be your own greatest advocate ensuring your Professional Experience is a success.

It is the director or principal who has overall responsibility for you as a Teacher Education Student. In many placements this responsibility will be delegated to your Supervising Teacher. On your orientation days it is important you establish to whom you refer for questions and information about the setting. In some instances, the director or principal will discuss policies and procedures with you and provide opportunities for you to attend the centre or school meetings as appropriate.

Your Tertiary Supervisor also provides support for you during Professional Experience. When you first make contact with your Tertiary Supervisor, it is advisable to discuss how you can make the most of your relationship during Professional Experience.

What if I am placed ‘at risk’ of failure?

Being placed ‘at risk’ of failure on your placement means that the Supervising Teacher and/ or Tertiary Supervisor had serious concerns about your standard of work. The process is further outlined in sections on this specific topic.

It is important to remember that this can be a distressing time for you. However, you also have an opportunity to work on your areas of concern and work towards a second assessment from a Tertiary Supervisor or the unit convenor. You need to consider your level of professionalism when the information is delivered to you; perhaps taking time out to digest this information away from the children and other staff is helpful. Try not to assert blame on those around you but rather think about the strategies you need to employ to move forward.

There may be a situation in which you receive an ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘fail’ result for Professional Experience placement which you feel has been unfairly awarded due to extenuating circumstances. Teacher Education Students may request to have this decision reviewed. In some cases, Teacher Education Students may be given an opportunity to repeat the Professional Experience in a different setting. The application for review of an unsatisfactory placement decision can be found in the section on this specific topic

What should I do if I have an accident? Am I insured?

Teacher Education Students are covered under the University’s Group Personal Injury insurance. This insurance may provide reimbursement of non-Medicare medical expenses. In case of injury you are required to report the incident to the director or principal, the Tertiary Supervisor and to the relevant unit convenor as soon as possible. Claim forms are available from the Professional Experience Office, contact (02) 9850 9460.

What are the conditions of Professional Experience placement?

  • There are a number of conditions all Teacher Education Students must agree to before participating in the Department of Educational Studies Professional Experience Program.  These include:
  • Teacher Education Students are required to give details on the Professional Experience placement form regarding, if applicable, the school or schools attended by their children or siblings and, if applicable, any school in which their parents or partners might be employed.  Also on the form, Secondary Teacher Education Students (only) need to include detail of their teaching subjects.
  • Teacher Education Students undertake their placements according to the schedule specified by the University and/or negotiated with the Supervising Teacher.  Any proposed variation needs to be submitted in writing to the Professional Experience Office and approved by the relevant unit convenor and/or the Initial Teacher Education Program Director.
  • Teacher Education Students are responsible for being aware of the Professional Experience schedule and to ensure that they are able to undertake their placement according to this schedule.
  • Except during the designated block-teaching periods, Teacher Education Students must not absent themselves from compulsory university classes in order to attend professional experience.
  • Teacher Education Students can expect to be allocated placements in a variety of educational and cultural settings.
  • While Teacher Education Students are required to undertake Professional Experience placements in a variety of settings, they may be allocated placements within the same education sector.  For example, they may be placed in a government school for multiple placements.
  • While the Supervising Teacher and Tertiary Supervisor have important input into the determination of the Teacher Education Student's final grade for a Professional Experience unit, the University has the ultimate responsibility for the allocation of the grade.
  • Teacher Education Students who fail a Professional Experience unit may be excluded from the Teacher Education Programs offered by the Department of Educational Studies.
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