The school experience programme (SEP) is offered through the ‘Get into Teaching’ website and offers places to those wishing to commence initial teacher training. Once you sign up to the ‘Get into Teaching’ website, you can request a School Experience placement in your locality.
Arranging your own school experience
Whether you’re still studying or looking to fit it in around your work schedule, these eight tips on getting some classroom experience should come in handy.
Find the right school
You may need to contact a number of different schools in your area to arrange your school experience. The Edubase portal has a list of all the educational establishments in England and Wales, and can filter your search by education phase (primary or secondary) and location to quickly find a suitable school.
Do your homework
Don’t just send enquiries off to generic contact email addresses. Telephone the school in question and ask who would be best to contact. This varies from one school to another – sometimes it will be the person responsible for organising work experience, at others it could be a head of department.
Classroom experience may have to fit in around a school’s training placements, exams, and other activities. Schools might find it difficult to accommodate you if you only have fixed availability for a school visit.
Less is never more
The more time you spend getting experience in a school, the better. Most schools and universities expect you to have gained at least 10 days’ school experience before you start your teacher training course.
You can check on different schools’ and universities’ requirements for school experience when you search for courses on the UCAS Teacher Training website.
Ask your university
If you’re a student thinking about teaching, find out if there are any schemes led by your university. These can offer you the chance to gain some structured experience and school placements before you apply for teacher training. Depending on your degree, there may even be the option to complete a module that includes classroom experience at a local school.
Consider volunteering options
To improve your chances of gaining school experience, you could also offer to volunteer at a school – perhaps as an unofficial classroom assistant. Volunteering in general is a great opportunity to gain experience of working with children. You could also volunteer to work in a youth club or as a Scout or Guide leader.
A lot of volunteering opportunities, such as after-school clubs, sports coaching or youth schemes, take place during evenings or at weekends, so you can fit volunteering around your existing commitments.
Be patient and persevere
Schools are very busy places, so may not always reply immediately. They also have to be careful about welcoming visitors. Schools may require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check as a matter of policy – so don’t leave things until the last minute as these can take four weeks or more to complete.
The time you spend in a school will be invaluable. You’ll gain a better understanding of how schools work, how you can fit into teaching, and important insights you can take into your training. It’ll also help you prepare the strongest application possible and get you fully prepared for the interview stage.
So while school experience may not always be easy to arrange, you can rest assured your efforts will always be worthwhile.