Why shouldn’t I find my own teaching placement?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

  • Your university may have agreements with certain schools.
  • Your university will have rules about which schools you can do placement at. 
  • You want to make sure that all of the admin is completed correctly. 
  • Universities may be able to meet your needs better than you can.

Your teaching placements are a stressful time for every pre-service teacher. They are the first times that you will be in front of a class to teach, and they are a very important part of learning to be a teacher. Every university teaching degree in Australia will require you to do at least one placement. 

Usually, your university will organise your teaching placement. If your university is doing the organising, your should make sure to leave it up to them even if it is looking like they will not be able to find a place for you. If you are doing your teaching degree through an online university, you may be expected to find your own teaching placement. 

There are many reasons why universities that typically find their students their teaching placements would not want you to find one for yourself:

Your university may have agreements with certain schools.

Many universities in Australia have agreements with their local schools. These agreements are designed to make it easier for universities to quickly find placements when they need them, but they often supply the school with something in return. 

Teacher smiling while she talks to a school on the phone about her teaching placement.
By trying to find your own teaching placement, you could jeopardise the relationships that your
university has built with local schools.

The university may be able to offer special professional development opportunities for schools that they have a partnership with. They may also be able to offer discounted graduate degrees for a few of their teachers every year. Because of the often complex nature of some of these agreements, universities often prefer to find their pre-service teachers their placements instead of getting them to do it themselves. 

As a pre-service teacher, you may not know which schools your university has an agreement or relationship with. You do not know how many pre-service teachers this school has taken in the past, or which universities they often supply placements to. This network of university-school relationships can become very complex, and your university will be in a better place than you to navigate this.

Your university will have rules about which schools you can do placement at.

Every university in Australia has different rules about where you can do your placement. Often, universities will not allow their pre-service teachers to do their placement at a school where an immediate family member works. For some universities, this can extend to any family member or even friend.

Some universities also will not allow a pre-service teacher to do their placement at a school that they themselves attended. This means that your pool of schools that you could contact personally may become extremely limited. Other universities still require each pre-service teacher to undertake one of their teaching placements in a school in a regional or remote area.

You want to make sure that all of the admin is completed correctly.

If you allow your university to organise your teaching placements for you, you can be sure that everything will meet the requirements of your degree. The school that will be hosting you for your placement will need to provide certain things, fill in certain paperwork, and complete certain reports to enable you to pass the placement and get the credits towards your degree. 

Young pre-service teacher shaking the hand of a principal while they discuss doing teaching placement.
When your placement is something that is required for you to complete your degree, you want
to make sure that all of the paperwork and admin is done correctly.

If you are organising your own placement, there is always the risk that you could forget something. There are a number of essential steps to planning and organising a successful placement that meets each university’s criteria, and the university staff are in the best position to know what these are.

Universities may be able to meet your needs better than you can.

This one may be controversial, but many universities will try to strategically place their pre-service teachers in schools to give them the best chance at a successful career after graduation. Many universities will ask you where you went to school and where any family members work so that they know not to place you in these schools. This does give the university useful information about where your experience and contacts lie, and they will be better able to place you in a school that fits with your current experience. 

For example, if a pre-service teacher went to Catholic schools and has family members working in the Catholic sector, the university knows that they can better prepare you for success by placing you in another Catholic school. Likewise, if your family all works in schools in a particular geographic area, the university may be able to find you a placement at a school in a similar area. 

Universities are very interested in ensuring their students’ success after graduation. On a very basic level, the more of their students that get jobs, the easier it is to advertise for more students in the future. Universities want you to be able to use your degree and find a job, so they will do what they can to support you. 

Not allowing you to do your placement at the school that you attended or that a family member works at may feel like they are doing the exact opposite; they are instead standing in the way of you getting a job after you graduate. There is, however, great merit in not concentrating your experience and connections in only a limited number of schools, but in extending your network to similar schools that you are likely to be successful in.

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