Trainee teachers must not be kept in dark

12th February 2010 at 00:00

Twice recently, I've heard about the experiences of two student teachers. One is a young girl in the final year of her BEd, on her last placement. This is the school experience where she should have enthusiasm bursting from her. Does she feel like this? No - because her teacher, who is supposed to be the professional, has not perused the student's file of work nor given any depth of feedback on her progress nor signed any paperwork that the student requires as evidence for her placement.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that, when the student was asked if she would approach the management in the school about this lack of support, she said she would not. She felt she was in a no-win situation and that, as a student, she would never be right.

The other case is of a mature student on a PGDE course who gained her degree while working as a nursery nurse in a mainstream school. On her school placement, she found herself with a teacher who gave her no feedback or encouragement or constructive advice to aid her development. We would not do that to our pupils.

When she voiced her concerns about the lack of support to the headteacher, she was told it was not her place, as a student teacher, to do so. We would not do that to our pupils.

Other staff at the mature student's school were fully aware of what was going on and what the teacher was like, because they had to deal with it every day. They congratulated and encouraged the mature student throughout her placement because she was doing well, in spite of her situation. Yet they did not voice their concerns to the headteacher. They obviously felt they could not.

The mature student was given an unsatisfactory report, although you would be hard pressed to find in the report what was actually unsatisfactory, other than stating that it was inappropriate for a student to complain about their teacher.

Teaching is about encouraging the development of our pupils and it should be about working as a team. Our places of work should never be about discouraging the promising teachers of the future. Senior management needs to think carefully about how and where students are placed.

Ann Wilson, Portknockie, Banffshire.

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