Queen Margaret University School Experience Programme Handbook - Preparing Students for School Experience

Approaches to assist students to prepare for placements are blended to allow flexibility of delivery and to accommodate for different learning styles. These include online learning, lectures and interactive workshops on self-evaluation activities, directed reading, and e-learning. Key aspects to support the preparation process are described in more detail below


All of the School Experience modules are supported by a designated Initial Teacher Education Area in the University’s virtual learning environment – The Hub. Through these medium students are given clear time frames and deadlines for completion of preparatory tasks, and activities associated with school experience.

The Hub School Experience Area houses a bank of useful placement learning resources and materials for students. Resources include web links, handbooks, assessment forms, templates for reflection and reading materials.

The Hub provides a forum for group support, and communication throughout each of the school experience. Students participate in on-line discussions facilitated by their University-Based Educators at designated points throughout each placement. Guidance on how to prepare for and participate in these on-line discussions is given in preparatory sessions held at the University. Activities are designed to promote a community of learners and facilitate the development of students’ self-assessment skills, fostering attitudes which value continuing professional development. University Based Educators encourage active knowledge sharing amongst the cohort through the use of peer- generated feedback.

Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG)

As students will be doing regulated work with pupils during school experience, 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 school experience. 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 placement.

Some placements providers require additional checks before accepting students on placements and make this known to the University when making placement offers. Further information on the PVG Scheme 

IMPORTANT: Failure to have PVG Certificate in place will result in the deferral of a school placement.

Insurance Cover for Motor Vehicle Use

Students using their own motor vehicle during school experience will be expected to obtain confirmation from their insurers that adequate cost cover is in place for all costs and claims and no liability is placed on the University and/or placement provider. This is usually business cover. The vehicle must be in a roadworthy condition with valid road tax and MOT (if applicable). Under no circumstance should students carry pupils, parents, teachers, or others employed by the school in their own vehicle.

Dress Code

Dress code on placement ought to be smart casual. The main thing to remember when dressing up for smart casual is trying to look smart but not overly formal, and make sure that their clothes are neat and clean; shoes are freshly polished. If in doubt, ask their University or School Based Educator. As a guide:

Smart Casual Do’s

Smart Casual Do Not’s

  • jacket or blazer   
  • jeans
  • cardigan or jumper 
  • denim jacket
  • trousers (dark preferable)
  1. shorts
  • long sleeved shirt (tie is optional) 
  • flip flops or sandals or stilettos
  • blouse
  • caps
  • closed shoes, flat shoes, pumps
  • sports wear
  • mid-length dress or skirt
  • logos and slogans on the top

A student whose personal appearance is deemed to be inappropriate by the School Based Educator or Head teacher may be asked to leave the educational setting and reported absent until they return dressed appropriately. Placement hours may be deducted for this absence.

Preparation Seminars and Workshops

The University will prepare students for school experience covering topics such as:

  • Child protection
  • Review of the learning outcomes and specific tasks for each placement, and exploration of how these will facilitate the integration of theory and practice
  • Professional conduct during school experience
  • Reviewing SPR for each placement
  • Preparation for, and review of self- evaluation on placements
  • Developing, and using a Professional Development Portfolio.

Confidentiality Issues

Ensuring confidentiality is not just good practice; it is a right owed to all individuals and is central to the maintenance of trust between schools, teaching staff, parents and pupils. They have the legitimate expectation that students will respect their privacy and act appropriately.

Students are expected to adhere to and comply with guidance provided by the regulatory body GTCS COPAC

Any written work completed by students during placement must also be stored as a confidential record. Students are expected to maintain boundaries of confidentiality outside placement both in discussions, presentations and written course work for the University. At all times, the identity of anyone connected with the school experience placement must be protected, and permission for the use of sensitive material must follow the policies and guidelines of the placement school.

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

School Based Educators are an important part of the assessment process and should demonstrate good practice when assessing their written work prepared for placement. 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. School Based Educators will report actual, and possible student breaches of security or confidentiality to the University as a matter of priority.

QMU has a strong commitment both to social justice and on valuing the individual. We want to encourage you, in your professional journey, to be who you are as a teacher. This includes developing your confidence to bring your unique identity to the classroom, regardless of your age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. If you would value a chat about the support QMU can provide for you to be who you are in the classroom, as you get ready for placement, or if you encounter any negative reaction from school staff or students in regard to your identity whilst on placement, please speak with Simon Hoult, SHoult@qmu.ac.uk