Going into the classroom

Whether you complete your initial teacher education (ITE) in a school, university or other setting, your time in the classroom should be an exciting and stimulating part of your ITE programme. It will be your first taste of being a classroom teacher and your first chance to practice your new skills.

What can I expect on my teaching placement?

  • a named teacher-tutor or mentor with whom you should have regular contact

  • regular, constructive written feedback on your lessons

  • at least the same level of support as is available to teachers at your school

  • proper communication and cooperation between your higher education institution, or other ITE provider, and your school

  • information about your school in advance of your arrival

  • opportunities to meet with other teachers, in particular others on the way to gaining QTS and NQs.

What should I not to do as part of my placement?

You should never be asked to:

  • undertake supervision duties at breaks on your own
  • carry out first aid on a pupil or teacher following an accident
  • administer medicines
  • cover when a permanent teacher is off sick or absent for any other reason
  • take part in performance management/appraisal.

What can I do to prepare?

There are a number of things you can do to be properly prepared before you go into the classroom, and we're here to help you with any difficulties:

  • visit your school in advance and use the visit to meet the teachers who you will be working with
  • find out who will be your teacher-tutor or mentor and ask about the support available
  • find out the names/contact details of key staff, for example the head of department and the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
  • find out about the school’s customs and routines, for example, times of sessions, break and lunch times and how teachers are addressed by pupils and parents
  • ask what equipment and other resources you will be able to use and in what quantity
  • find out about safeguarding procedures and the name of the designated safeguarding lead
  • ask for copies of the school’s code of conduct or behaviour policy, the school handbook or prospectus, the equal opportunities policy, health and safety information, and any plan of the school, if it is a large or split site school.

What about my pupils?

It is important to learn about your pupils:

  • find out the age range of the pupils you will be teaching, what is being taught and the stage reached by the pupils, and ask the class teacher or phase coordinator/head of department for copies of the schemes of work in use
  • consult closely with the teachers about individual pupils’ needs and the most effective ways of organising children to work
  • discuss reasonable adjustments that you may need to consider for pupils with special educational needs and disabled pupils with the school/college SENCO
  • find out which of your pupils (if any) are subject to child protection orders or concerns
  • use a seating plan to help with remembering names;there may already be one with information about any pupils who should not sit together.

Should I take a register?

Even if taking a morning or afternoon registration group is a requirement of your terms and conditions of employment, the law relating to pupil registration is complex and registration should never be undertaken without appropriate training and supervision. Most schools now use Optical Mark Readers (OMR) for this, or even swipe cards and OMR/computerised registers may also be used for individual classes rather than a teacher’s record book.

When should I be unsupervised?

The extent to which you should expect to be supervised by and accompanied by teachers before going solo will depend on your experience and growing skills. Teachers will exercise their professional judgement in the level of support and presence that is appropriate. Once you have established yourself, supervision may involve only the occasional visit to observe how you are doing.

You should be given regular, constructive written feedback on your lessons. While at the school, you should be given at least the same level and form of support available to the members of staff there.


Further help and advice

You can find more help and advice on a range of issues on the ATL and the NUT section websites.

Visit the ATL section website
Visit the NUT section website
Trainee advice
02 August 2017