Factors to Consider Before Accepting an Offer of a Place in a UNE Teacher Education Degree

All Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Early Childhood (EC) degrees at the University of New England (UNE) have a requirement for professional experience. This professional experience is required by the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) and/or the Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). The Office for Professional Learning and UNE make every reasonable attempt to assist students to complete placements in their required settings but can only do so to an extent that continues to meet mandated requirements and does not impinge on the academic integrity or the learning outcomes of a unit.

Please read the information below to assist you in accepting a UNE ITE degree. In conjunction with this, please also read the Important Information page.

Living Overseas and Completing a Professional Experience Placement

Primary and Secondary Education Degrees

Students enrolling at UNE must complete professional experience placements in an Australian school setting in Australia. UNE may allow 50% of placements to be completed in a school overseas with prior approval from the Office for Professional Learning. All other professional experience placements must be completed in Australia.

Overseas placements will generally be the earlier placements in any UNE Initial teacher Education degree and placements overseas will only be granted for the number of days in a unit containing professional experience. Extra days that exceed the required number of days for a professional experience unit will not be credited against other units containing professional experience. The final placement must be completed in an Australian school in Australia.

An overseas professional experience placement must be in context to a degree being studied for it to be accepted. For example, TESOL in an overseas setting could be considered in context to the degree being studied as long as TESOL is one of the curriculum areas being undertaken.

Early Childhood Education Degrees

All placements for Early Childhood degrees must be completed in an ACECQA NQF compliant setting. Any placement centre that does not meet this requirement cannot be accepted for placement, including overseas settings.

Working Arrangements, Children and Professional Experience

Professional experience placements must be undertaken in accordance with NESA and ACECQA requirements. The number of days that you will be required to undertake professional experience can vary depending upon the unit in which in which you are enrolled and can range from 5 days to 50 days. Please check the Professional Experience Placement Guide or the Courses and Unit Catalogue to find out about professional experience placement requirements. Teacher education students must ensure they have allowed for this when creating their study plan by arranging time off work, ensuring care is arranged for children or other dependants etc. Placements cannot be waived unless a successful application for Partial Credit or Advanced Standing has been applied for and granted.

Please note, if information on the Professional Experience Placement Guide and the Courses and Unit Catalogue differ, the Courses and Unit Catalogue will be the correct information.

Placements in Armidale

Many of our Initial Teacher Education students request placement in Armidale. As such, placement in Armidale is in high demand. The Office for Professional Learning will consider all Armidale placement requests, however, when the demand for Armidale placements outstrips supply then placement in Armidale may not be possible. The Office for Professional Learning requires students consider and provide alternative areas for placement where they can secure accommodation for the period of the placement. All UNE teacher education students will be expected to travel for placement.

Curriculum Method (Teaching Areas) Availability

When completing placement in a secondary school setting, you will be required to undertake teaching in your Curriculum Methods of Study in both junior and senior areas. Junior and senior areas are the equivalent of 7-10 and 11-12 in NSW respectively. Some curriculum methods may be limited in their availability in a school so careful consideration is required when organising study plans to ensure that senior and junior classes are covered across the professional experience placements.

Conflict of Interest for Professional Experience

Conflict of Interest on a professional experience placement is any situation where there could be perceived or actual favouritism or over familiarity towards a teacher education student undertaking professional experience. Examples of Conflict of Interest include members of the supervisory relationship being linked through family/relative status or close friendships. This includes a family member working at the school/centre or one’s own children attending that school/centre. Such situations may introduce an actual or perceived conflict between personal interests and university duties. UNE’s Code of Professional Conduct, including the requirement to declare any such conflicts of interest, binds supervisors as contracted UNE assessors of professional experience units. Where a teacher education student is granted permission to teach at a school/centre where their spouse or children attend, they should not teach, work with or supervise any of these family members under any circumstance.

All potential Conflict of Interest MUST be declared before the placement commences and approval is reliant upon discussions between the Office for Professional Learning and the school/centre. Failure to declare a Conflict of Interest may result in the withdrawal of a Teacher Education Student from their placement.

The Two School Rule

NESA requires professional experience in Initial Teacher Education Degrees to be undertaken in at least two school settings. This means that all placements cannot be completed in one setting alone. Considerations will need to be made to ensure that this rule is met regardless of current employment in a school.

The Office for Professional Learning recommends at least three school settings to gain further experience of different settings.

How Placements are Completed

All placements are to be completed in a block unless otherwise stated on the Course and Units Catalogue. The Office for Professional Learning can allow for some deviation from a block placement in special circumstances as long as a school or centre is able to accommodate for the changes. These changes are not automatic and will need to be approved by the Office for Professional Learning prior to commencing a placement to ensure the academic integrity and learning outcomes of units are not affected. For more information regarding variations to placement, please contact the Office for Professional Learning via AskUNE or by phoning (02) 6773 3898.

The final placement in a school must be completed in a full-time block. This is to ensure teacher education students' skills reflect the requirements for the Graduate Level and can be demonstrated consistently.

Further information regarding professional experience in the different courses can be found on the Professional Experience Placement Guide.

Pregnancy and Professional Experience

Students who are or may become pregnant before or during their professional experience placement should consult their doctor regarding potential health risks and inform the Office for Professional Learning and the school or centre of their pregnancy.  Most placement settings have their own policies regarding staff who are pregnant and students are required to abide by those policies. Students should contact the Office for Professional Learning with any specific queries in relation to their pregnancy and professional experience.

People Currently Working in a School

If you are currently working in a school as a teacher with Conditional Accreditation, you may be a candidate for an In-Service placement. This means that rather than shadowing a supervising teacher as per a teacher education student, the school principal or their delegate completes an independent report based on teaching over a specified number of days for the required unit for teacher training. The school would need to verify that the teacher education student take sole responsibility for the planning, teaching and assessment of a class or classes and must work with the In-Service candidate on improving teaching skills and application of pedagogy. They must also verify the independence of the assessor. Considerations will need to be made regarding the two school rule.

Please also note, the final placement of any teaching degree cannot be undertaken as In-Service in your current place of employment. This is in line with the NESA policy Professional Experience in ITE Policy. To adhere to these guidelines, arrangements for placements in other school settings will be required, including leave from current employment. Please visit the NESA site for information regarding the policy.

Approval for In-Service placement is at the discretion of the Office for Professional Learning and will require certain documentation to be assessed. For more information regarding In-Service placements, please contact the Office for Professional Learning through AskUNE or phone (02) 6773 3898.

People Currently Working in an Early Childhood Centre: In Centre vs. Out of Centre
Early Childhood

Students who are enrolling in an Early Childhood Education (ECE) degree and are currently employed in an Early Childhood Setting may be able to complete placements in their current place of employment, providing: the centre agrees to the placement and it is approved by the Office for Professional Learning.

There are, however, some units where an ECE student will be required to complete placement outside of the centre (including any 'sister' centres) in which they are currently employed. Please use the Professional Experience Placement Guide for assistance when arranging study plans for professional experience and for more information.

Pre-Placement Requirements

There are certain certificates and checks that all ITE and EC students will require before they can undertake a professional experience placement. These requirements are outlined on the Important Information page. Please read this carefully as a placement will not be approved by the Office for Professional Learning until these have been completed, submitted and checked by our staff members.

Working as a Teacher’s Aide, Paraprofessional or School Support Officer

Work as an aide, paraprofessional or Schools Learning Support Officer cannot be counted as professional experience and cannot be undertaken as an In-Service placement.

Travel for Placement

There are many students seeking placement in schools, centres and agencies, not only from other UNE education students but also students from other universities. Schools, centres and agencies will determine if they have the capacity to accept a UNE education student when approached by the Office for Professional Learning. Therefore, flexibility is required when approaching placements.

Education students will be expected to travel for placement. This will mean accepting placements up to 110km or 90 minutes from their place of residence. Students bare the cost of this travel.