Queen Margaret University School Experience Programme Handbook - Assessment of School Experience, Processes and Paperwork

Assessment of School Experience, Processes and Paperwork

Professional Working Relationships

University Based Educator (UBE)

When on placement students will be allocated a UBE who will be the university point of contact if students have any questions or concerns about their placement.

The UBE will also visit the student on certain placements* to carry out observations with the SBE.  

Any general enquiries about placements can be directed to ITEplacements@qmu.ac.uk.

*Please note that no placement visit will take place during the 1st school placement, which is a 4 week placement in semester 1 of 2nd year.

School Based Educators

Students should work closely with their School Based Educators during school experience. It is important to remember that School Based Educators’ first responsibilities are to pupils in their class and that in addition to facilitating their learning they have many additional responsibilities to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Giving consideration and thought to School Based Educators’ responsibilities should enable the establishment of an effective working relationship. Students are advised to put the safety and well-being of pupils before personal concerns. School Based Educators will collaborate with students to identify how the University learning outcomes for each placement will be achieved and help students to determine a clear pathway for achieving these through discussion and negotiation (e.g. Practice Learning Plan & Agreement).

In addition to ongoing informal observation and discussion from the School Based Educator, normally, students will receive a regular formal observation and feedback based on an agreed focus. A School Based Educator will make one joint observation, usually in the latter half of the placement. 

School Based Educators assess a student’s performance on placement using the Standard for Provisional Registration (SPR) and will also discuss their Professional Digital Portfolio throughout placements.

Students ought to have realistic expectations about their performance during school experience and acknowledge that School Based Educators are responsible for the assessed outcome.

Assessment of School Experience

School Based Educators, University Based Educators and students have access to paper and electronic copies of the SPR statements and relevant school experience documentation necessary for formative and summative assessment of school experience. These can be used throughout the placement as a basis for discussion to help students with self-reflection on their own performance. The purpose of formative assessment process is to:

  • To generate feedback for students about their teaching
  • To identify strengths and weaknesses in their professional practice and modify learning accordingly
  • To provide a basis for professional dialogue and discussion in relation to their practice
  • To provide a documented record of their level of competence in relation to achieving the SPR by the end of their programme.

Specific details on assessment tasks and activities can be found in the placement thumbnails (summary) and students should take note of these.

Formative assessment of learning on school experience may be by direct observation of teaching, informal and formal discussion, written evidence, feedback from School Based and University Based Educators and other suitably qualified professionals working within the placement setting, as well as their own self- evaluation.

Mid Way Review (Formative)

The Mid Way Review takes the form of a discussion between students and the School Based Educator halfway through each placement, highlighting areas of progress across the specific SPR and University learning outcomes for each School Experience. It guides the professional actions to be taken by the School Based Educator, and the student during the remainder of the placement. Areas requiring further development and priorities to be addressed in the second half of the placement should be highlighted, agreed and documented in an action plan on the Mid Way Review form.

The purpose of the professional dialogue between students and School Based Educators is to identify strengths and areas of development in relation to the SPR giving them the opportunity to modify and/or further develop specific aspects of their practice before completing the placement.

It is expected that students will prepare for the Mid Way Review by completing the “student’s comments” section. This self-assessment process contributes towards the development of their professional judgement by encouraging students to reflect on their practice and identify evidence of meeting any further professional action goals identified in their Portfolio.

Mid Way Review comments must be signed and dated by both School Based Educators and students before being submitted to the university.

Completing the Mid Way Review and/or Cause for Concern Form

The following list of points is intended to assist School Based Educators in the compilation of the above.

Feedback should be:

  • Individualised and relevant, demonstrating attention to the particular development needs of the student
  • Goal-directed, providing assistance and increased understanding of what is expected or required, with a focus on the needs of pupils and relationship to the learning goals of the student
  • On the Mid Way Review and/or cause for concern forms it is helpful to summarise the key points in the form of a development/action plan
  • Behaviour-focused, rather than personality focused. Feedback that refers to what the student does, allows scope for change
  • Respectful, demonstrating mindfulness of acceptable boundaries, respecting confidentiality and using language that is non-judgmental
  • Balanced, comment on strengths and what the student did well with areas of further development
  • Written feedback should be constructive and structured so that students are clear about specific aspects of their practice requiring further development
  • Collaborative, inviting student involvement and agreement in identifying strengths and areas of development, in seeking solutions, reaching conclusions and formulating plans for future action, facilitating self-evaluation
  • Change focused (non-evaluative), exploring specific strategies to maintain strengths and support areas of development and facilitating a problem-solving approach that highlights the consequences both positive and negative of particular behaviours or actions
  • Encourage improvement with practical and specific suggestions and evidence required from the student to demonstrate further achievement
  • Factual (not generalised), providing evidence-based examples based on observed practice that highlight actual strengths and weaknesses of modifiable behaviours that have been observed
  • Aligned to the SPR.

An exemplar with guidance will be placed on the SPS system for schools to download.

Supporting Students at Risk of an Unsatisfactory Placement

Whilst being relatively rare, an unsatisfactory outcome of school experience does happen and can be a very stressful situation for all concerned. These guidelines are aimed at reducing some of the stresses and ensuring that a fair process is in place to help support the student, and the School Based Educator.

One of the key aspects in managing this is early detection – the sooner a student’s performance can be identified as a cause for concern then the more opportunity available to the student to attempt to redeem the situation (see Cause for Concern forms). 

The student needs to be informed whether their progression on school experience is a cause for concern as soon as this has been identified.

  • The word unsatisfactory and/or cause for concern at this stage must be clearly used in this discussion
  • All attributes/knowledge gaps where the student is not satisfactory must be clearly indicated to the student and examples must be given by the School Based Educator and related to the SPR
  • School Based Educators must complete a cause for concern notification form and the Mid Way Review should also list the areas causing concern which can be found here: Initial Teacher Education

The School Based Educator must contact the University Based Educator at QMU. A discussion will then ensue to decide the most appropriate form of action to ensure support for both student, and the School Based Educator.

The School Based Educator must contact the University Based Educator at QMU. A discussion will then ensue to decide the most appropriate form of action to ensure support for both student, and the School Based Educator.

Whilst each situation will vary and requires to be handled appropriately, there are key aspects as how to best work forward. Honesty is paramount and requires both School Based Educator and student to be open within the learning relationship. Clarity is important, make sure the student is very clear about areas of concern and they might best address these. This will involve an action plan setting weekly goals/targets for the rest of the placement so that the student has an agreed plan to move things forward. The University Based Educator should support in this process and receive a copy of the agreed actions taken. In some cases, this might trigger an additional visit by the University Based Educator. A copy of this report will be held in the student‘s school experience placement file at the University. Guiding principles:

  • Inform the student as soon as possible if their practice is a cause for concern
  • Inform QMU as soon as possible if their performance is causing concern – preferably no later than the mid-term review
  • Encourage the student to talk with their University Based Educator at the earliest opportunity
  • Ensure that the student receives honest, non-judgmental feedback which focuses on the key areas causing concern
  • Document these discussions have taken place on the weekly reflection record. Both School Based Educator and student should sign this
  • Set weekly goals/targets with the student for the remainder of the placement – making these realistic and achievable. Both School Based Educator and student should sign this
  • Schedule weekly feedback sessions indicating progress on the set goals/targets and document discussions on the weekly reflection record
  • Encourage the student to use reflection as much as possible to allow them to assess their own practice – giving some focus to where things go well as well as those where practice has not been so good
  • Keep in touch with the student‘s University Based Educator to feedback on progress

If the student has not been able to retrieve their practice by the final evaluation then ensure that all verbal, and written comments are in line with the SPR so that the student is left with a clear picture of where their practice did not meet expected levels. 

All relevant documented evidence will then feed into a grading meeting with the University Based Educator at the end of the placement at QMU, where a decision will be made regarding the final grade for submission to the Board of Examiners.  Ultimately, the Board of Examiners will determine whether the student may progress or whether they may be offered a retrieval placement. 

Discontinuation of School Experience

It is important that all involved in this decision be as objective as possible, are clear about the relevant evidence that they have, follow the relevant procedures, seek advice and record decisions and outcomes.

A placement may be terminated for the following reasons.

Reasons related to the student

  • Professional misconduct
  • Issues related to competency and/or fitness to practise
  • Health and safety issues and mandatory programme requirements 
  • Personal issues

Reasons related to the School-Based Educator

  • School Based Educator’s competency, and/or concerns regarding their conduct 
  • Personal issues

Reasons related to the school

  • Staffing shortages

If a placement is terminated, ITEPlacements@qmu.ac.uk, the University Based Educator and Programme Leader must be notified at the earliest opportunity, so that an appropriate action plan can be developed.

Possible actions might be

  • Issue is resolved.  Placement continues with extra support from the school, and the University
  • Another School Based Educator is able to facilitate the placement for the student in a different class
  • The terminated placement is rescheduled 

In the instance of a satisfactory standard being unachievable, resulting in an unsatisfactory placement, a fail mark may ultimately be presented to the Board of Examiners for the placement module; at which pint a decision will be taken as to whether a retrieval placement may be offered to the student.  All outcomes from Boards of Examiners, regarding progression or potential retrieval are made available to students via the QMU Student Portal

Completing the Final Report Form (Summative)

The Final Report Form should be completed by the School Based Educator at least one day before the end of the school experience and discussed with the student. This provides the student with the opportunity to review the report with the School Based Educator before signing it

School Based Educators must refer to the SPR benchmark statements when completing the Final Report Form. In making a judgement, it is important to bear in mind the extent to which the placement has given the opportunity to demonstrate the criterion being considered, and what can be realistically expected from students in relation to their stage of the programme.

We ask that School Based Educator to document the reason(s) for lack of opportunity in the “School Based Educator’s comments” section. By the end of the final school experience students need to achieve a satisfactory grade across all elements of the SPR.

Successful Completion of ITE Placements

For successful completion, as per GTCS regulations, students ought to achieve 8 out of 8 satisfactory grades based on the Standards for Provisional Registration* on each the school experience placement. Failure to do so will depend on the number of unsatisfactory results and could lead to a retrieval placement in late August/early September, as agreed by the Board of Examiners. To be eligible to graduate and progress into practice it will first be necessary to successfully complete any retrieval placement(s).

*Please note for year 2 placements only students are expected to achieve satisfactory grades in 6 out of 8 Standards for Provisional Registration.

Deferring a School Placement

Students who are unable for legitimate reasons to undertake the placement at the allotted time or who withdraw from a placement due to ill health and/or personal issues will have a placement arranged at a deferred time. This will count as a first attempt.

Scheduling of a Deferred or Retrieval Placement

Deferred or retrieval placements are dependent on the University sourcing another placement through the Student Placement System (SPS).  Students should be aware that it may not be possible for a retrieval placement to take place until the next academic year, in August, when schools re-open (which may impact the student’s ability to progress to the next year of study). 

Student Evaluation of School Experience

At the conclusion of each placement, students complete a school experience evaluation offering constructive feedback to the school, School Based Educator, and to the University, to enable ongoing enhancement of the placement experience. A general summary of the results will be fed back to all schools involved via our Local Authority colleagues.

Submission of Assessment Paperwork

Students are responsible for ensuring they receive a copy of their final school experience report and that the school submits an electronic version of the completed Final Report to the University.  A submission date for the Final Report will be communicated to students, which ordinarily must be submitted no later than three working days of completion of placement.

Students must ensure they make copies of completed paperwork for their own records.

At the conclusion of each placement, students reflect on their practice against the SPR and as a result of their Final Report setting targets for the next school experience or for the completion of their GTCS induction profile at the end of the final placement.

Appeals Procedure

A student wishing to appeal against a decision made by the Board of Examiners about the outcome of a school experience placement may do so by following the procedures, and practices set out in the Academic Appeals Regulations (QMU, 2014a).