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Student teachers encouraged to think outside the classroom

129 student teachers from York St John University will put their knowledge and training into action next week, on an innovative placement scheme in settings other than schools (SOTS).

The successful programme (which is not currently operated at any other teacher training institution) organises student teacher placements (running from 10 to 15 October) in a diverse range of organisations and settings across Yorkshire, Humberside and Northumberland.  These include York Minster, York Museums Trust, Jorvik Viking Centre, The National Railway Museum, National Trust properties, environmental centres, art galleries, libraries, the RSPB, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, and Harewood House and Bird Garden. 

During their time on placement, students carry out an assortment of supportive responsibilities, including helping to deliver workshops and supporting school visits.  Each setting arranges for a trained mentor from within its team to work with the students, to share expertise and knowledge, monitor the students’ attainment of learning outcomes, and generally oversee their experience.

The SOTS placement is an integral part of student teachers’ training and they are required to complete a number of assessed tasks during the engagement. These include keeping a daily journal which they must use to show that they have reflected upon their learning and professional development.

The benefits of the scheme are abundant, but they include inspiring students to become more creative teachers and encouraging them to identify opportunities for learning outside the classroom.  There are also reciprocal benefits for the placement hosts who are able to observe the most current learning strategies being demonstrated by the students, and profit from the wealth of resources and materials students prepare during their stay.    

To prepare for the forthcoming SOTS placement next week, the year group is at Beningbrough Hall and Gardens in York today, taking part in a professional development training workshop (funded by the National Portrait Gallery).  This will give them a preliminary insight into learning opportunities in settings other than schools and show them how these might transfer to the traditional classroom. 

Jan Spencer, Senior Lecturer in Education, SOTS Director, and Partnership Development Manager for the Faculty of Education and Theology commented:

“The York St John University SOTS programme is a fruitful opportunity for both students and their placement hosts.  It affords students the chance to observe and promote learning outside classroom parameters; develops lesson planning skills; and allows students to see the importance of inspiring in young people a love for lifelong learning.  Mentors welcome the assistance they receive from the students as well as the opportunity to observe up-to-date teaching and learning strategies.  Such positive feedback demonstrates the merit of the scheme and the importance of our partnerships with placement settings.  We look forward to building on these relationships in future projects.”

The SOTS programme is an innovative scheme but is becoming more widely acknowledged as an important teacher training experience, and received positive comments in York St John University’s recent Ofsted inspection report. 

For further information please contact Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer on T: 01904 876466 or E: a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk


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