QMU School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management Information about ITE Programmes and COVID Safety Precautions for LA partners

Information about ITE Programmes and COVID Safety Precautions for LA partners

On behalf of the University we want to share with you the steps we are taking at QMU to ensure the safety of our students and schools and to inform you about the preparation we are making for them coming out on placement. We understand these are anxious times for schools but be assured we put safety first and have done all we can to minimise risk as much as is possible both in action and advice to students. We also appreciate your ongoing support and commitment to our Teacher Education Programmes.

Our PGDE Home Economics students will be on placements at these times: 16

Our 2nd Year BA Hons in Ed Studies (Primary) Students will be on placements at these times: 15th February to 12th March 2021 (4 weeks) and 20th April to 28th May 2021 (6 weeks).

Please note that as we are a new ITE programme, we do not have 3rd and 4th year students and our 1st years do not go out on placements in schools, but experience placements in community-based organisations.

As part of our risk management planning, we have taken the following steps:

  • We have adopted a blended approach to teaching with the majority of contact time for all programmes taking place online.

  • Any on-campus teaching is currently limited to between 2 and 6 hours a week and is delivered in adherence with Scottish Government guidance
    (see: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-universities-colleges- and-student-accommodation-providers/). For example, our largest lecture hall (normal capacity of 250) is now limited to 38 people and seminar rooms (normal capacity of 30 to 60) are now reduced to no more than 9. After each teaching session the rooms are fully cleaned.

  • Students are required to read and follow – Scottish Government guidance; University guidance; GTCS Student Teacher Code and are advised to download NHS Protect app. They will also be advised to access, read, and follow the policies and procedures in place in their school/LA context.

  • Students will also be reminded of their professional responsibility and to be mindful about their personal and social actions and the potential impact of these on schools prior to and throughout their placement experience. We will emphasise at all times that they must remain vigilant about COVID safe practice.

  • Students will be advised to complete a risk assessment at university using the Scottish Government’s COVID Risk Assessment Guidelines (see the updated COVID-19 Occupational Risk Assessment Guidance and interactive tool). Easy Read formats have also been made available.

  • This tool will support us in assessing ‘COVID age’ only; and the LA/school will have undertaken the necessary site-specific risk assessment. As such, students are encouraged to contact the school two weeks in advance of placement to introduce themselves and arrange a conversation with school lead for H&S/Covid to discuss the local risk assessment. We are then asking our students to complete a signed checklist to inform us that they have complied with your regulations at school. A copy has to be submitted to us. We would appreciate your support in this. Students must discuss any issues directly with the School Risk Assessment Manager and inform their University Tutor of any concerns.

Specific changes to university and school experience:

  • Things will look a bit different this year, the student experience will be different pedagogically and practically in both university and school learning contexts. We appreciate the support you will be able to provide students to help navigate their time in school, recognising the different experience they will be having.

  • Attached to this email are the statements we have sent to students and intend to share with schools. This outlines some key points and guidance. These will be in our placement handbook/guide, which will be made available on the SPS site, and the university’s Practice-Based Learning (PBL) site. QMU PBL Website 
  • Every student will have an identified University tutor and students will be responsible for brokering the initial communication between the school and their tutor; the aim is to keep open lines of communication between schools and the University.

  • Whilst we do not envisage that the University tutor will be making an in-person visit to school, the assessment process will still be done in partnership and led by University tutor. Clear information will be shared with school about the process and a guidance template on how to fill in the report, in line with the GTCS SPR, will be shared. Again, this will be made available on the SPS site and the university’s PBL site (see link above).
  • Should any issues emerge schools should contact the relevant University Tutor or respective Programme Leaders(PGDE: Linda Craig ; B Ed Primary: Christopher Green  and you are also very welcome to contact our Academic Lead for Placements: Geetha Marcus at any time. These contacts can also be found in ourguidebooks, SPS site and the university’s PBL site (see link above).
  • We are in the process of creating short videos for the undergraduate programme about the placement experience and assessment process.
  • Our PGDE Team will organise initial virtual briefing meetings with the key support staff at placement schools. Thereafter, a virtual meeting space will be arranged with each school so that school-based support staff can request regular discussions with University tutors as necessary. University tutors will also maintain regular contact with students to discuss progress, assessment and support practices and they will also have ongoing access to the students' digital professional development portfolios.We will keep you updated with progress and provide the links to this in due course.

We hope the steps we are taking and the advice we are giving to our students reassures you that we are doing all we can in these difficult times to minimise risk, put safety first and minimise any additional workload for our schools.

Thank you for your continuing support and co-operation.

Best wishes, Geetha

Dr Geetha Marcus
Senior Lecturer, Psychology, Sociology and Education Academic Lead for Placements
Queen Margaret University
Queen Margaret University Drive
Musselburgh EH21 6UD

Geetha Marcus