The anatomy of a school placement

School placements consist of 3 parts:

  • school
  • mentor
  • placement window

In addition, a school placement could also have information about:

  • ITT provider
  • trainee

School

A school, or educational setting, is where ITT providers place a trainee for classroom training.

Educational settings include, for example:

  • nurseries
  • schools
  • further education colleges
  • independent schools

Educational settings have ‘contrast factors.’ Contrast factors describe the setting and can include:

  • establishment type - for example, ‘Community school’, ‘Free school’ and ‘Foundation school’
  • education phase - for example, nursery, primary and secondary
  • age range - for example, 11 to 16, 11 to 18
  • admissions policy - for example, selective and non-selective
  • religious character or ethos - for example, Christian, Muslim, multi-faith
  • urban or rural setting
  • gender
  • special educational needs (SEN) provision

Contrast factors are typically a fixed set of attributes that don’t change frequently, if at all.

In Manage school placements (Manage), we derive contrast factors from Get information about schools (GIAS) data.

While most contrast factors don’t change frequently, there are exceptions, for example:

  • Ofsted rating
  • class size
  • school size - number of students
  • previous experience in ITT

Contrast factors are essential when placing trainees, as trainees must work in contrasting educational settings to enable them to meet the Teachers’ Standards.

As set out in the ITT criteria (section C2.4), trainee teachers need a variety of experience in schools to enable them to meet all the Teachers’ Standards, and they must have taught classes to pupils in at least two educational settings before ITT providers award QTS.

Mentor

A mentor is a member of a school’s teaching staff who supports and mentors the trainee.

Mentors are typically experienced teachers who have, where relevant, the same subject specialism as the trainee they mentor.

Mentors do not have to be qualified teachers, but they typically are.

Sometimes, mentors may be from another school, such as a different school in a multi-academy trust (MAT).

Class teachers make good mentors because they can:

  • support the trainee closely in the classroom
  • facilitate the trainee’s reflective practice

Assumption: the quality of support and mentoring a trainee receives can impact their likelihood of success in completing a course, gaining qualified teacher status (QTS), and entering the teaching workforce.

In Manage, mentors have several attributes:

  • subject
  • qualifications - for example, PGCE
  • specialisms - for example, special educational needs (SEN) coordinator
  • provider training
  • experience level - for example, years teaching and years mentoring
  • other experiences - for example, exam board, member of a local subject network

A mentor also has the capacity or availability to host a trainee.

Mentors can mentor any number of trainees. The typical ratio is between 1 and 2 trainees per mentor.

In Manage, mentor attributes are derived from the Database of Qualified Teachers (DQT) or added in service by the mentor or ITT coordinator.

Placement window

A placement window is when a trainee attends the educational setting.

Since the academic year starts in September and ends in July, a placement window might be:

  • placement A: October to January
  • placement B: February to May

A placement window consists of a:

  • start date
  • end date
  • training pattern - the days in school (practical) versus the days on campus (theory)

ITT providers have different windows. For example:

  • provider 1 - AB
  • provider 2 - ABC
  • provider 3 - ABA

Note: A, B and C are individual schools.

Trainees need to do at least two placements and their programmes need to be designed to allow them to spend at least 120 days (24 weeks) in school across all placements.

ITT Provider

ITT providers are responsible for organising school placements and assessing the suitability of the school and mentor.

ITT providers can be higher education institutions (HEI) and school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT).

They are also responsible for:

  • delivering the course pedagogy
  • ensuring trainees receive appropriate support
  • completing appropriate documentation
  • awarding qualified teacher status (QTS)

Trainee

A trainee is the person doing the training.

Trainees must do at least two placements in contrasting schools.

Trainees are assigned to a placement by the ITT provider in collaboration with the school’s ITT coordinator.

ITT providers typically place trainees at school within a reasonable commute. What constitutes ‘a reasonable commute’ varies between ITT providers. For example, it could be between 60 and 90 minutes - dictated by transport links.

Depending on the course, trainees might have more than two placements. For example, they could have a third placement that provides specialist training in special educational needs (SEN).