The majority of PCA student intake are students studying on the Blackpool Teaching School Alliance Primary Schools Direct or Primary Schools direct with SEND programme , however, we do still offer placements to primary and secondary teaching students on a range of courses from a number of universities. Historically we have offered placements to Students from the University of Cumbria and Edge Hill University. The Universities are conscious that the Government is now recognising and committed to giving trainee teachers the valuable experience of working within specialist SEND settings. Some students have chosen special needs as their specialism, for others it can be their first and very valuable experience of working with children who have an EHCP. They spend up to eight weeks on placement with us, based with a class and building up their teaching time.
We have also accommodated students from Leeds Met, University of Manchester and Sheffield University. These tend to be experiential or enrichment placements lasting one or two weeks, where students have asked to do a placement within a special school setting. They are timetabled to work throughout the school including Westbury Sixth Form Centre to give them a true insight into the Academy.
Students are supported and observed by their school based mentor, a University mentor and staff within the Academy. In the past they have taken lead roles in assemblies, planned trips, taken part in school residential trips and volunteered to help at after school events. When students leave they complete a placement evaluation form which are generally very positive! Several return as volunteers at the end of their course or have returned to complete extra study or their dissertation based around PCA and its’ pupils. We have even had past students return to us to start their teaching career.
Pleasingly, as of January 2015 we now take student teachers on their final block teaching practice. On a 12 week placement they work up to an 80% teaching commitment with four observations. Their final report focusses on the teaching standards which provide a benchmark of the minimum requirements for recommendations for QTS. Alongside their teaching commitment they need to produce a SPAR (Student Placement Assessment Record), a monitoring and assessment file, pupil observations and a lesson plan for every lesson taught. Students meet weekly with their school based Mentor and twice with their Professional Partnership Tutor from University.
Our most recent development within initial teacher training is from September 2018, as part of our Schools Direct Programme we now offer a SEND route into teaching. Schools Direct is a school based initial teacher training route meaning each student has a host school where they spend the majority of their time while not on placement. Offering a SEND route means Park Community Academy now not only offers placements to students but also hosts students on the course.