Welcome to the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Postgraduate School Experience Placement Page

The Handbook provides an overview of partnership and placement arrangements for the QMU ITE programmes, the processes and support mechanisms involved in placement provision. The Handbook is intended for ITE students, schools hosting placements and University-Based Educators. Programme and placement information in the handbook includes:

• Partnership between schools and university
• An overview of ITE programmes & placements
• Organisation of School Experience processes & procedures
• Preparing students for School Experience
• Assessment processes and paperwork
• Contact and support mechanisms
• Roles and responsibilities during School Experience

School Experience

School Experience is a compulsory part of the ITE learning process giving students the opportunity to carry out a journey of personal and professional development within an educational setting.  It is a series of placements in which you as a student are educated/mentored/supported for a stipulated period of time, and where professional competence as a teacher is assessed.

School Experience enables the acquisition of new knowledge and skills as well as the application, consolidation and reflection on learning gained in the university environment. School and University-Based Educators, working in collaboration, have a crucial part to play in supporting your progress to meet the required General Teaching Council, Scotland (GTCS) Standard for Provisional Registration (SPR) by the end of their programme.

The success of School Experience is highly dependent on a clear and supportive interchange between ITE students, university, local authorities and schools.

Please refer to the Handbook for further information on:

  • Preparing you for School Experience, see section 7
  • Assessment of School Experiences - Processes and Paper work, see section 8

PGDE (Secondary) Home Economics

The PGDE (Secondary) Home Economics programme is a 36-week programme which aims to guide and support the development of reflective, research informed Home Economics teachers, capable of engaging perceptively and critically in the work of their early professional years with commitment to appropriate values, understanding, knowledge, competences and continuing professional progress.

There are two phases (subdivided into four parts) to the school experience programme enabling students to grow in confidence and competence. School and University-Based Educators, working in collaboration, have a crucial part to play in supporting student progress to meet the required professional standards.

There are three central themes that permeate school experience placements – 1) Relationships 2) Reflection and 3) Research - The 3 R’s.


The school experience placements will provide opportunities and support you to:

  • Apply theory and evidence in original and creative ways to support inclusive learning in the practice setting and develop original and creative responses to problems and issues
  • Design, develop, implement and evaluate strategies and programmes or a series of opportunities which support all pupils to optimally participate in the curriculum and school life using a range of specialised skills, techniques, practices and/or materials that are at the forefront of, or informed by forefront developments
  • Demonstrate and facilitate collaboration, discussion and debate within the group of learners to extend the individual’s and groups’ perspective. This will include exploration of the views of pupils, teachers and parents/carers and require demonstration of the facilitation of respectful exchange with less verbal / nonverbal participants
  • Communicate effectively and collaboratively in various media to a range of audiences (e.g. peers, tutors, research community, pupils, parents/carers, allied professionals)
  • Engage in critical reflection to develop skills of self and peer appraisal and enable insights and application to practice
  • Demonstrate originality, creativity, independence, autonomy and accountability in relation to personal and professional practice and development.

Throughout the course, university inputs and school experience placements are designed progressively around the SPR which outlines what is required of all new teachers, thus providing strands for students to evaluate their developing abilities. Each school experience has a unique set of learning outcomes, which articulate with prior and future university studies and previous school experience.   Learning outcomes increase in complexity as you progress through the programme as each placement provides the building block for future ones.

Partnership between Local Authorities, Schools and University

QMU has established partnerships with the following local authorities Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Scottish Borders and Fife.  Educational representatives from these authorities have been closely involved in the design and development of the new Education programmes. From 2019-20 QMU’s partnership with these authorities will form part of the wider Edinburgh Early Phase Partnership along with Napier University and Moray House.  Whilst each university will retain its distinctive Programme partnership elements, the wider partnership will enable all stakeholders to meet regularly to discuss school experience and partnership related developments including the sharing of good practice with local authority partners.

You will be supported, observed and assessed in practice by a designated School-Based Educator  (a teacher/mentor) on each of your placement settings. These are experienced practitioners and normally have undertaken teaching at undergraduate degree or post-graduate level and are fully registered teachers with the GTCS.  The School Based Educator/Mentor will work with you to identify current strengths and aspects of your practice which can be built on and enhanced.  They will facilitate your learning in practice.  To support this process, from the start of the programme, you and the School Based Educator/Mentor will discuss and agree on the framework for your learning in practice.  This should include:

  • Consideration of prior knowledge, experience and teaching skills
  • Your negotiated arrangements for practice (including your learning plan and agreement on contact with the School Based Educator/Mentor
  • Your expectations and the School Based Educator/Mentor expectations, with identification of learning opportunities available within and out with the practice placement area
  • Sign this agreement at the start of each placement and, as you progress through the programme, any agreed amendments should also be recorded within it

GTCS Standards for Provisional Registration (SPR) and the Student Teacher code provide direction for programme-related practice experience. Working together with, and being guided by, the School Based Educator/Mentor, it is expected that you will take account of these outcomes and will consider ways in which they can be achieved by the end of the programme to ensure that you have met the required standards.

Reflective Practice and Situated Learning

Situated Learning

Learning is a lifelong process experienced through connections that are embodied through diverse learning situations. Through cognitive, practical and emotional experiences, transformation occurs through stages, resulting in a continually changing or more experienced person (Jarvis 2009 ; Illeris 2014 ).

Central to this strategy is the need for you to engage in learning experiences, a readiness to listen and explore, preparedness to be open to experiences and a resolve to keep going. This requires an effective learning environment based on intellectual and communicative space to learn, with shared values of honesty, trust, authenticity, respect and reciprocity.

The environment should generate a culture of engagement and criticality where you can creatively explore and question theories, practices and different sources of knowledge in an atmosphere of high challenge and high support.

As part of this process you will find yourself reflecting on your learning and development as a student teacher, and as part of a team, while on school experience placement (also known as a situated learning experience). Think about what supports and strengthens your situated learning experience.

You will be supported to challenge your thinking, values and beliefs; through the posing of complex activities and questions and develop resilient and sustainable approaches to your learning and practice in response to these.

Critical to this process is the use of diverse knowledge, scholarly inquiry processes and evidence-informed materials to engage and enliven the processes of learning.  As a learner on this programme of study you have a responsibility:

  • As a representative of the teaching profession and the University
  • Towards the organisation providing practice experience, and its pupils and employees
  • For managing your learning and professional relationships.

The engagement in life-long learning and co-creation of communities of learners and practice is integral to this process. 

Further study will increase breadth and depth, nurturing and connecting both research and enquiry-based approaches to professional practice.  As part of this process the situated/practice-based (the school experience) element of the programme is key to your learning.

Reflective Practice

To support your learning and reflections on experiences in practice it is strongly recommended that you keep a reflective journal on your learning experiences; how you make sense and meaning out of these experiences in relation to your development during this year of professional and academic study.  This is your journal and you choose whether to share any sections of the journal or not.

Many of the tasks and activities set when on placement revolve around critical reflection as not only is it a lifelong aspect of learning and teaching, it is also central to the GTCS’s SPR.

To support your progress and manage your workload, the Standards have been divided so that each placement has its own focus and areas for self-evaluation.

Organisation of School Experience

The Student Placement System (SPS)

Placements are organised as part of a national on-line system known as the Student Placement System (SPS), which is based on matching requests from universities to offers of placements from individual schools via their Local Authority. The system is managed by the GTCS.

The SPS operates to a strict, nationally agreed timeline and meeting the required deadlines is essential. Once schools have submitted their offers in line with the SPS timeline, Local Authorities will confirm offers. Universities are required to upload course details and student data for placements due to take place within the forthcoming academic year. The system will then run rounds of automated matching and both Universities and Local Authorities will also have the facility to manually match you to schools. Once matches are approved by Universities and Local Authorities schools will be notified via email of the students they should expect to receive throughout the school year:

• Round one will match placements which start before November 
• Round two will match placements which start before February 
• Round three will match placements which start after May 

Allocation of School Placements

Students will complete a placement application form and the information they provide will be uploaded to the SPS. Under no circumstances should you attempt to organise your own placement directly with a school. Students who attempt this will be discussed at the Professional Progress Committee (PPC) meeting.

Please also note that students can be placed in any one of the 32 local authorities.

While we try to bear in mind any preference a student might have, there are other considerations, which may well take precedence when placing students. In particular, the centralised procedures for placing students, the induction programmes for newly qualified teachers and the recent increases in the numbers of student teachers across Scotland have placed pressure on school capacity. Students may be required to travel to a placement in an outlying area, and should be prepared to travel up to 90 minutes each way. The placements will be made based on a student’s term time address and mode of transport. The Partnership and Placement Office will have the final decision on which school students will attend. Placement enquiries should be sent to ITEplacement@qmu.ac.uk using your student e-mail account.


Please refer to the handbook for further information on:

  • Religious and/or Cultural Observances, see section 6.3 
  • Catholic Teacher's Certificate, see section 6.4 
  • Students with Disabilities, see section 6.5 
  • Changes to Placement School, see section 6.6 
  • Travel and Accommodation, see section 6.7 
  • Absence from Placement, see section 6.9


You will be supported in your learning by the following individuals:
Sandra Eady, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader at seady@qmu.ac.uk
Geetha Marcus, Senior Lecturer and Academic Lead for Partnerships and Placements at gmarcus@qmu.ac.uk
Wendy Stewart, Partnership and Placement Officer at ITEPlacements@qmu.ac.uk

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