Many of the placements that are used by the university are with partnership schools which are already heavily involved in Initial Teacher Education. This has many advantages as they are used to working with our students but it also places a large responsibility to uphold the high regard that the university is held in by these schools.
The following guidelines were developed on the EPEE project to help you develop a positive a relationship no matter how short your time in the school:
When visiting schools
- Be professional in your dress and manner (formal for the first visit and then follow the conventions of the school).
- Be punctual and ensure that any change to your agreed attendance is notified to the school (carry a contact phone number with you).
When interacting with the school/students
- Treat all the people you come into contact with respectfully.
- Use thoughtful and respectful language for referring both to individuals and to groups of people. You should ensure that the language, images or humour you use do not convey prejudice or stereotypical assumptions about people on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation.
- Never criticise a member of school staff in public. If you disagree with someone, or feel that another course of action might have been desirable, you must not discuss this with the member of staff concerned in the hearing of pupils, parents, visitors, etc.
- Support the messages and ethos of the school (e.g. if a teacher tells a child to do something ensure that you support that message).
- Remember that work places are always busy places and occasionally, however well intentioned, the school may not be able to spend the time they had planned with you; be flexible.
- If you come into contact with confidential information remember that it must stay confidential. Even apparently non confidential information should be treated sensitively; you never know who might be sitting behind you in the pub when you are entertaining your friends with details of Tommy’s latest exploits! The exception is when a child or young person discloses and issue that may be a child protection concern. Please read the Safeguarding Children guide for more information.
- Remember to uphold research ethics at all times.
- Act as the school staff would to the people you come into contact with, be kind, helpful and approachable without trying to be a friend.
- It’s easier to start ‘formal’ and become less so if that’s appropriate than it is to start ‘informal’ and try to regain formality.
- The issue of physical contact with children and young people can cause some anxiety, particularly for male students. You should ask the school coordinator for the school policy/guidelines on physical contact with pupils. Where there is no written statement, it should still be possible to have useful conversations and obtain helpful guidance. The bottom line is never initiate contact and avoid it wherever possible.
- If you’re not sure if something is acceptable or not, then ask!
Above all, be enthusiastic, be proactive without being pushy and enjoy your experiences!