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The PGCE course is both an academic programme and a professional training. It is important that you maintain professional standards throughout both in the university-based parts of the course and in school. Please read the following carefully and follow the advice and instructions given.

3.6.1 Absence

During school placements, if you are absent, you should inform the school as soon as you can and, where relevant, leave some indication of the work to be undertaken by classes for which you are responsible.
You must also keep your University tutor informed. If your illness lasts for five days or more, your absence must be supported by a GP certificate.

Continued absence
If you are absent from the course for a significant period of time it may not be possible for you to complete the course and thus satisfy the Teachers' Standards.  In these circumstances you may be asked to either suspend your registration for one year or you may be obliged to undertake extra work after the course has ended.

Absence from University days in order to take part in school activities
From time to time, you may be offered the opportunity to take part in a school activity that occurs on a University-based day.   For example, you may be invited to take part in a school visit.  Whilst recognising the important professional development opportunities afforded by such activities, we are also mindful of the need to avoid undue disruption to the pattern of University-based work.
When considering these matters the following factors should be taken into account.

  1. Normally, over the whole course, you should not miss more than two University-based days in order to take part in school activities. Absence during the first eight weeks of the course should be avoided where possible.
  2. Professional Tutors should write to the Director of Studies giving details of the proposed absence at least three weeks prior to the proposed activity.
  3. You must seek your University tutor's permission at least two weeks prior to the proposed activity.  This will not be automatic, for example, permission may not be granted if you have already missed a number of sessions.
  4. You will need to make your own arrangements for catching up on work missed.

When you are asked to take part in fieldwork, visits and similar activities, you may not be counted in the place of teachers when calculating pupil/teacher ratios.  You should act in the same capacity as 'adults other than teachers' who often assist teachers on school visits. 

3.6.2 Staff Supervision and covering lessons for absent staff

At all times you should work under the direct supervision of a qualified teacher. It is a Department for Education (DfE) regulation that trainee teachers cannot be counted against the teaching establishment of a school, should not be asked to take on the full responsibilities of a qualified teacher or be asked to cover for an absent teacher. If you are in any doubt about these issues you should discuss this with your Professional Tutor and/or University tutor.

This means that all activities in the school need to be under the supervision of qualified members of staff. Although the teachers concerned may not always be present in the room, they should always be readily available so that you can turn to them for help and advice.

3.6.3 Photocopying

Each placement school has an allowance for consumable materials that includes photocopying. Please remember your responsibilities regarding copyright. You should therefore be able to photocopy materials within reasonable limits, and with due regard to copyright, without being charged.

Each of the schools in which you are placed during the year will have its own rules and regulations governing the use of telephones and copying.  Please make sure that you understand these and consult your Professional Tutor where appropriate.

3.6.4 Procedure in the event of an OfSTED Inspection in your school

Every year trainee teachers on PGCE programmes will experience an OfSTED Inspection. If your school is involved in an OfSTED Inspection the inspectors may, or may not, wish to observe the lesson(s) that you are teaching. It will be a matter for the Headteacher to determine whether an OfSTED inspector will observe your teaching.

3.6.5 Procedure in the event of Industrial Action

If you should be in a school in which a teachers' professional association is taking 'industrial' action you should not try to influence the action in any particular direction, for example, by taking the classes of an absent teacher.  The teachers' professional associations, however, are conscious that prolonged action might interfere with your professional development and this they obviously wish to avoid.  If such circumstances appear likely you should consult your SD tutor.  In extreme circumstances, it may be necessary to change your timetable or your school.

Teacher professional associations acknowledge that as a 'trainee teacher' you are not a full member of the teaching profession. You have no voting powers, as you are not employed and are not therefore directly involved in action against an employer. It is therefore unlikely that you would be asked to take any personal action, and equally unlikely that you would be asked to take any duties that would interfere with any action, but if you are in any doubt please seek advice from your SD tutor.

3.6.6 If you experience any problems in school

Where a problem arises in your Homeschool or Complementary School you should speak to the person most directly concerned. In the first instance this is likely to be your Professional Tutor or your Subject Mentor. The aim should be to resolve the problem constructively.  If the situation continues to be problematic, you should inform your SD Tutor or if appropriate the PGCE Director of Studies.  You need to behave and act in a professional manner at all times and in all that you do.

If a serious issue of professional conduct occurs in school, it is possible that a placement might be suspended or a trainee might be asked to withdraw from the course.

Detailed information about the situations where a trainee might be suspended or required to withdraw including procedures and processes involved is available on the PGCE Course Handbook wiki in the Additional Information section.

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