Queen Margaret University School Experience Programme Handbook - Introduction

Welcome to the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) at Queen Margaret University (QMU) School Experience Placement Handbook.

This 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:

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 students 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 their 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.

There are three central themes that permeate school experience placements 

  1. Relationships 
  2. Reflection 
  3. Research - The 3 R’s.

1.1 Aims 

The school experience placements 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 issue
  2. Manage complex issues and make informed judgements in situations in the absence of complete or consistent data/information
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Communicate effectively and collaboratively in various media to a range of audiences (e.g. peers, tutors, research community, pupils, parents/carers, allied professionals)
  6. Engage in critical reflection to develop skills of self and peer appraisal and enable insights and application to practice
  7. 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 students progress through the programme because each placement provides the building block for future ones.  

1.2 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 Education programmes. From 2020-2021 QMU’s partnership with these authorities formed 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.

Role  Responsibilities

Associate Head of Division

Ensures consistency across ITE programmes and represents placement matters externally on bodies that discuss national level placement policy.

 Programme Leader

Leads on the overall placement provision in BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) programme. 

Year Tutor


Leads a particular year in the BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) programme including being the module coordinator for the placement-focused module and the subsequent school experience.

University Based Educator (UBE)

An academic member of staff who acts as a contact person for a group of students, and school experience Educators throughout a school experience placement.


Placement & Partnership Officer

The administrator who co-ordinates all the administrative and operational aspects of school experience across specific schools, providing the Student Placement System with information about placements, communicating to students and schools and overseeing the general day to day issues arising from school experience.

School Based Educator (SBE)

The person facilitating students’ learning whilst they are on placement. The School Based Educator is a class teacher jointly responsible for the assessed outcome on placement and who acts as a professional guide and mentor to students.


The enrolled student on the ITE programme.


Young people in schools (Learners).

Students will be supported, observed and assessed in practice by a designated School Based Educator (a teacher/mentor) on each of their placement settings. These are GTCS registered teachers. The School Based Educator will work with students to identify current strengths and aspects of their practice which can be built on and enhanced. They will facilitate their learning in practice. To support this process, from the start of the programme, the student and the School Based Educator will discuss and agree on the expectations and learning for the placement.

1.3 The GTCS Standards for Provisional Registration (SPR) 

It is the SPR that applies to students at this stage and is at the core of their learning and progress. Full details of the SPR can be found on the GTCS website

In addition, the GTCS have a dedicated site for students: IN2Teaching with added support and advice specifically tailored to support students through the provisional registration process and their probationary service, whether it is via the Teacher Induction Scheme or the Flexible Route. There will be input from the GTCS throughout the year.

Based on the Standards, students are required to use a series of self-evaluative tools to keep a record of their teaching experience and key moments of learning that have been meaningful, detailing what went well and what can be improved. As part of this learning students ought to think about why these experiences are relevant to students as future teachers (see Weekly Evaluation Form).

1.4 Pebblepad.  Professional Development Portfolio (PDP)

As part of their school experience and professional development, students will compile a Professional Development Portfolio (PDP) during placements using proformas developed by the programme team. The use of the portfolios gives students opportunities to evidence and reflect on their learning in relation to the SPR when on school experience. Students are encouraged to reflect on their practice in relation to particular strands and identify the professional actions needed to make satisfactory progress against the relevant Standard. This process prepares students for using portfolios to evidence their continuing professional development informing their completion of the Teacher Education Profile in preparation for the Induction year

1.5 QMU Placement Team Contact Details

Name & Address of Institution 

Name of Institution  Address/Email Address
Queen Margaret University,

1.6 Email Etiquette

Students ought to be judicious in the emails they send. Academic staff receive a very high volume of mail and may be unable to respond to their email if it requests information that can be found elsewhere. Check Education Studies Primary Module areas on the Hub, and the handbooks, to see if the information is available elsewhere first. Staff will endeavour to respond to emails within 3 working days (i.e. not including weekends, public holidays and annual leave).

Please ensure that you use your QMU email account for any correspondence relating to your programme of study.  When sending emails to academic and support staff within QMU it is good practice to adopt a professional tone and to be clear about the issue being addressed. This tone of course reflects the professional etiquette expected of teachers and is in line with the SPR on Professional Values and the Student Teacher Code.

1.7 Your E-Mail Inbox

Students must get into the habit of clearing out their email inbox regularly. The inbox has limited capacity and if students do not regularly delete emails, especially those with large attachments, emails sent to students will not reach their inbox and students may miss important information. Alternatively, Outlook has an Archive function (which can be found in “Mailbox Clean-up” under the “File” tab), which allows students to hold on to their old emails in a separate folder. Please ask in the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) for help with this option. 

More details on staff roles and responsibilities can be found in Section 8.