Caught out on student placement

14th October 2005 at 01:00
It should not have come as a surprise to the Scottish Executive, universities, education authorities and schools that the demand for student placements would rise in direct parallel with the increase in teacher numbers. Yet that is what seems to have happened. They have been caught on the hop, unprepared and unco-ordinated.

If more primary, English and maths teachers, and various others, were required to meet the Executive's targets, then the means to train them had to be put in place. It appears, however, from the evidence provided today (Friday) by HMIE that there have been failings on virtually every side.

While the inspectors began their review nine months ago, and some arrangements have improved in the intervening months, the experiences of this year's students show only too clearly that the system is still creaking. Too many entrants to teaching have had an inauspicious start to their career. Those in charge of planning the future of Scottish education should bear in mind that they reap what they sow.

If providing a motivated, professional teacher workforce is indeed a priority, it is simply not good enough that some schools - albeit a minority - are, as HMIE has found, treating student teachers "inappropriately and unprofessionally" as a means of "supporting" a weak member of staff, as a cover teacher for an absent member of staff or to cover "McCrone time".

The Executive's additional funding to help authorities co-ordinate placements is welcome, but as the originator of the push for higher teacher numbers it needs to do more to aid the planning stages by giving more detailed statistics earlier in the process.

The Executive is being pressed by headteachers to offer inducements to schools to take students as readily as most take on probationers. There is a quid pro quo involved in that - schools must not be found wanting in their support for the student teachers who will eventually be the mainstay of their departments.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today