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The thinking behind a late school placement

Megan Macrae, 22, Probationary teacher, Dingwall Primary

"Focusing on the influences of learning and thinking beyond the classroom was really good. We did community walks, looking at housing and where children can play, employment around the area - that was great, because when you were put into a new placement school you thought: `What are the children experiencing at home, what are the parents like and what access to facilities do they have?'

"It's thinking of the bigger picture as opposed to just your own classroom. Instead of just going in and accepting this is how it is, we are more critical of education systems and we question things a lot more."

Headteacher Derek Mackenzie says: "Megan did her final teaching practice with us last year. We noticed then she was very independent, very reflective about her practice and able to take on board advice very easily and very quickly.

"It's a good idea that their first and second years - especially now, when we are looking for more reflective practitioners - give them time to think about the mechanics behind the job, rather than going straight into the classroom."

Natalie Shuttleworth, 23, Probationary teacher, Millbank Primary, Nairn

"We found it hard to come to terms with the fact that we didn't get placements early on, because we had started our teaching course and were desperate to work with children.

"But I can now see the benefit of knowing the theory before I went in, rather than learning both together. Studying psychology makes you aware of child development, which helped. I did history as well in first year and that helped when I did the Second World War with P7."

Natalie's headteacher, Marion Mackay, says: "She has a good knowledge of the curriculum, a good understanding of children's needs and how to adapt the curriculum accordingly and how to get the best out of them. She has lots of common sense and a good understanding of child development and how she can help children develop effectively.

"She is a talented classroom teacher whom I would be delighted to employ in the future."

Roisin Halloran, 22Probationary teacher, Simpson Primary, Bathgate, West Lothian

"We didn't go into the classroom immediately. We did that in the fourth year and, looking back, it benefited us, because we had that initial year to think about how children learn. So when we were going in in second year and observing, we knew what we were looking for - how to pinpoint children who were picking things up and those who weren't.

"This school seems very forward-thinking and advanced about Curriculum for Excellence. There have been a lot of in-service days, but I always feel I have a lot to contribute, because of the way in which we were trained at Aberdeen."

Headteacher Lucy Maclean says: "Roisin is a lot more perceptive about children with additional learning needs. She is certainly up-to-date with Curriculm for Excellence - but that is not unusual in my staff; they all are. She has worked well with her mentor and is very willing to implement any advice she is given."

Laura Bowman, 22, Probationary teacher, Auldearn Primary, Nairn

"I think that learning from the theories, you are then going out and seeing that on your pair placement as well. You also had that other person to rely on. So now if I am maybe struggling, I am more able to say, `Can I have some help?'

"It's not that I can't do it or I am failing, but you maybe need someone else's perspective on it. A lot of the time in workshops you were the pupil, so then you were able to reflect on what you could improve.

"Working collectively has completely impacted on the way I teach now, because a lot of work at university was in a group."

Laura's headteacher, Angela Cryans, says: "She knows the learning and teaching and understands how children learn. They spent a lot of time working on the theories of learning and how they learn themselves, as well as how children learn. I definitely think that has impacted on the way Laura delivers the teaching and her methodology.

"She works very well with other adults and I don't know whether that's her personality or a result of her doing team teaching. She learns well from others too."

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