Still smiling at the end of their introductory seminar in June, these students are pioneering an exciting addition to the BA History programme, allowing them to test and develop their interest in teaching careers before applying for postgraduate teacher-training.
Thanks to Faculty of Arts and Humanities Teaching and Learning ‘Think Space’ funding, and much appreciated support from colleagues in Chemistry, the Institute of Education, and the Student Employment, Experience and Careers Centre, the History Department has launched a new, optional, 20-credit, Part 3 module—History Education.
On two-week individual placements in local secondary schools over the vacation, the students will observe History lessons, then research and plan a lesson to give jointly with a mentor on the school staff. Back at the university in the autumn, they will submit placement logs, reports on their independently planned lessons, and give oral presentations on their placement experience.
We hope these students will gain a real advantage in the increasingly tough competition for Postgraduate Certificate in Education and Graduate Teacher Programme places. While some may pursue different employment options, the module will increase choice and enhance personal career-development opportunities.
Matching students to placements entailed a selection process. Completing a CV and covering letter, then attending for interview, provided useful experience for all applicants. After CRB checking, the successful candidates gave very positive feedback on the pre-placement seminars. Run jointly with the Institute of Education, these not only allowed the students to bond as a group over introductions to the module and the History curriculum in schools. They also offered vital advice about professional behaviour in schools, lesson observation, lesson planning—and food for thought about the different pros and cons of the PGCE and GTP routes to qualified teacher status. So far, informal reports on placements in progress have been very enthusiastic.
This seems a really worthwhile initiative. Some of our Biological Sciences students know by year 3 that they want to go in to teaching as a career. While we offer voluntary placement opportunities there is no formal module of this kind. I wonder whether such modules should be offered more widely and that some shared teaching could be introduced across those modules to help pass on key teaching skills.
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