History Education by Dr Elizabeth Matthew

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.

Placement and career learning update from the Student Employment Experience and Careers Centre

There is good news for staff concerned with placement provision, particularly those involved for the first time. A new Placement Guide for Staff will provide quick reference points for managing the different types of placement and provide answers to FAQs. Once approved, it will be on the Web for easy search and update. In the meantime, the SEECC placement and development team are happy to answer queries and provide support for Schools.

With so much interest on career outcomes from potential students and their families/supporters, one of SEECC’s summer tasks is to create a central resource on all the activities that a student can engage in to develop their employability. Careers Advisers will also be talking to School and Department staff to ensure that we have an up to date picture of career learning in the curriculum and celebrate good practice. We hope to link the central employability resource to subject-specific information so that students understand the range of provision inside and outside the curriculum.

A working group led by Dr Paddy Woodman is revisiting the University’s Policy on Careers Information Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) in the light of the revised QAA guidelines. The Director of SEECC has drafted an updated policy and implementation plan for consideration at its April meeting.

Work is also underway to increase the number of students completing the popular RED Award and to develop RED Plus for students who are keen to be challenged further. We are very sorry to lose Vicky Clarke who developed the Award and has done so much to make it a success. We thank her for the legacy that will enable the Award to go from strength to strength.

Finally, we welcomed Amanda Duggan us from SOAS on 2 May who joins as Employer and Graduate Career Manager. Amanda will lead on employer engagement and the provision of services to new graduates, with the main focus still on supporting graduates in their first six months. We would be grateful if staff could inform finalists in their final tutor meetings of the new email graduatecareers@reading.ac.uk which went live in May 2012.

Jane Standley