Undergraduate Community Based Education Experience

Welcome to the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Undergraduate Community Based Education (CBE) Page

I would like to welcome you to the Division of Psychology, Sociology and Education at Queen Margaret University. It is our hope that you will both enjoy and benefit from your studies as you progress towards your goal of becoming educators, whether in schools or in other professional education settings. You will more than likely be aware that the programme is a mixture of academic work, usually undertaken while at the University, combined with several periods of community or school-based practice, spread over the totality of the course.  You are required to undertake a short, community based education (CBE) experience over the next academic year. Possible contexts for this initial two week (or equivalent) experience might include:

  • Working with organisations such as Deaf Action, Banardos, Food banks etc
  • Working with children as a coach in sporting clubs, either as lead or assistant working with swimming lessons
  • Helping with after school clubs in a school
  • Library
  • Museum Education Dept.
  • Language School
  • Third sector voluntary organizations (Guides, BB, Scouts)
  • VSO type CBE abroad

This list is indicative of the kinds of acceptable environment, but it is not exhaustive – if you have an alternative suggestion, then please email your Seminar Tutor, who will advise you of the appropriateness of your choice. 

The CBE handbook provides a comprehensive overview of CBE arrangements for the QMU Education Studies programme, the processes and support mechanisms involved in CBE provision. The Handbook is intended for all Education Studies students, CBE mentors hosting CBE and Seminar Tutors at the University and you will find further information there.

Aims of the Community Based Education (CBE) Experience

Undertaking a CBE is a unique aspect of this degree. In this way students learn about the integration of formal and informal education through various community based education settings. In the first year, students arrange a 5 day (30 hour) self-organised, community based education experience linked to the Developing Academic Literacies for Learning Module (X1034).

CBE is an important part of the learning process giving students the opportunity to carry out a journey of personal and professional development within a community based education setting. It enables the acquisition of new knowledge and skills as well as the application, consolidation and reflection upon learning gained in the University environment. CBE and University Seminar Tutors, working in collaboration, have a crucial part to play in supporting our students’ learning within a CBE setting.

The success of CBE is highly dependent upon a clear and supportive interchange between students, University, and community based settings.

The CBE experience ought to conclude no later than Friday 27th March 2020. It should be 5 days (30 hours) duration - either as a single block or as separate days spread across a number of weeks. You will have already been asked to complete a PVG application, and this will be a necessary pre-requisite to starting this placement. This placement is a compulsory requirement for Education students taking the Academic Literacies (X1034) for Learning module. Failure to organise or complete the placement will halt your progress onto the professional part of the degree programme.

A central aim of CBE is to encourage students to consider a range of third sector organisations, non-governmental organisations or charities, who work with young people and families, and who support the organisations directly or indirectly. We think it would be most beneficial for our BA (Hons) Education Studies students to hear about the networks of collaboration that exist out with the organisations and the many important ways in which children, young people and their carers are supported. This initiative fits within our degree programmes which have been created with an embedded focus on inclusive and social justice practices.

As such, we aim to provide students with a variety of opportunities to participate in community based projects. We have already established contacts with a range of charities, voluntary organisations and community based learning programmes who are willing to offer students an opportunity for experiential learning. Students have the opportunity to complete a reflective log, incorporating their experiences and observations, which they will use to inform their presentation and discussion to their seminar group and tutor at the end of the academic year.

The community based education experience will provide opportunities and support students to:

  1. 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
  2. Observe complex issues and how informed judgements are made in situations
  3. Communicate effectively and collaboratively in various media to a range of audiences (e.g. peers, tutors, research community, pupils, parents/carers, allied professionals)
  4. Engage in critical reflection to develop skills of self and peer appraisal and enable insights and application to practice
  5. Demonstrate originality, creativity, independence, autonomy and accountability in relation to personal and professional practice and development.

Reflective Practice and Situated Learning

Learning is a lifelong process experienced through connections that are embodied through diverse learning situations. 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 an education studies student, and as part of a team, while on CBE. Think about what supports and strengthens your learning experience out with University and in the community based setting.

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 CBE 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.

For further information on the structure, expectations, formative assessment, overview of CBE tasks and community engagement feedback, please visit section 2 of the handbook.

Organisation of CBE

Travel and Accommodation

There is no direct provision by QMU for the cost of accommodation or travel expenses whilst on CBE. Students should consider the cost of CBE as being a necessary and integral element of the programme and plan for this in advance.
The University Student Finance Service administers two discretionary funds provided by the Scottish Government. These are the Childcare Fund which is aimed at students who incur childcare costs whilst studying and the Hardship Fund when students find themselves facing exceptional financial problems.
An application form is completed and submitted with supporting evidence which is then considered at a confidential monthly meeting of the Hardship Committee. It is useful to make an appointment to see the Student Finance Adviser before submitting an application. Student Finance Adviser: Contact studentfunding@qmu.ac.uk.

Identity Check

Where appropriate, CBE hosts will be asked to undertake an identity check as per QMU regulations. To enable an identity check we ask all students to show the host their QMU matriculation card on their first day of the CBE experience.  This card displays the photograph and name of the student.


The University is aware that many students now find it essential to find work whilst studying. However, employment outside of the programme must not adversely affect student’s work during CBE. Students are expected to mirror their working patterns to those in operation at the organisation. They must recognise that flexibility on the part of the organisation is not to be expected.

Similarly, all requests for pre-arranged absence from CBE must be discussed with the University. Planned absences from CBE may be approved by the University in exceptional circumstances only.
If difficulties arise with CBE hours, community based organisations, and the student are actively encouraged draw this to the attention of the organisation and University so that a mutually acceptable plan of action can be developed.

You will find further information on students with disabilities, absence, acceptable use of social media, ICT & other mobile devices, student withdrawal/ removal from CBE and the complaints handling procedure in section 3 of the handbook

Preparing you for CBE

Identification of Student Needs

Students are initially asked to reflect on the forms of CBE that might help them achieve the learning outcomes of the module, as well those which might reflect their own substantive interests. Students are encouraged and expected to suggest and organise their own CBE experience. Students will be required to submit a Community Based Education Proposal (Appendix A) prior to allocation and initiation of the project. Proposals will be discussed on a one-to-one basis, if necessary, between the student and Seminar Tutor and, ultimately, will be approved by the Seminar Tutor. At all times, the Seminar Tutor reserves the right to refuse any proposal and to suggest an alternative.

Advance Preparation and Planning

Introductory lectures and workshops provide detailed preparation for the CBE activities. Furthermore, students are informed about any necessary documentation that must be completed prior to the commencement of the CBE activity. 

Community Based Education Agreement Letter

Once a CBE opportunity has been agreed, the student will issue two copies of a Letter of Agreement (Appendix C) which sets out the details of the project, including start and end dates, indicative hours per week, location, contact details, etc.  Agreements are countersigned by both parties and one copy is retained by the QMU Academic Administration and one by the CBE provider.

 Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG)

As students will be doing regulated work with pupils, and protected adults during CBE, they must apply to register with the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG). It is the responsibility of each student to fill in the detailed application form provide the necessary documentation and to pay for this to be carried out prior to the first CBE. The University ensures that all PVG membership applications are appropriately checked and countersigned and that the whole process has been completed satisfactorily prior to the commencement of CBE.

Some CBE providers require additional checks before accepting students on CBE and make this known to the University when making CBE offers.

Further information on the PVG Scheme.

IMPORTANT: Failure to have PVG Certificate in place will result in the deferral of CBE.

CBE Settings

It is important that students do not specifically name staff, or CBE geographical areas on any documents, or in assignments submitted to the University. Students are advised to describe their CBE in general terms for example, “planning team”, “additional support service”. Students may use initials or pseudonyms.

It is important to recognise that students are in a learning situation, formative feedback is an essential part of supporting students to comply with good practice. Community based organisations will report actual, and possible student breaches of security or confidentiality to the University as a matter of priority.

For further information on preparing you for CBE, please see section 4 of the handbook.

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