Schools Student teachers in the year of COVID-19

The AEU has been working hard to ensure student and preservice teachers won’t be disadvantaged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption unseen in our schools (and beyond) for more than half a century. Student or “preservice” teachers have felt this disruption acutely, with many unable to undertake essential practical experience as schools moved to remote learning. The AEU has been making sure that preservice teachers – particularly those graduating in 2020 –won’t be disadvantaged.

During the first wave of the pandemic in Victoria, the Department of Education and Training (DET) issued guidelines describing how supervised placements should go ahead while usual learning was disrupted, in line with the operating guidelines and other coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines previously circulated to schools. These guidelines are yet to be fully updated.

As schools returned to onsite learning, the union contacted all workplace reps and principal members (more than 2000 of them) to encourage them to work with universities to find placements for student teachers. We have reiterated the importance of practical experience for a preservice teacher’s development as a professional and as a requirement of their course. 

The AEU has advocated strongly with the VIT to address around registration for preservice teachers graduating in 2020.

Schools will have to plan in accordance with the safety and health concerns of their staff and community so the availability and implementation of practicums will vary from school to school. Principals retain the authority and responsibility for making decisions about the facilitation of supervised placements at their schools.

The AEU has also advocated strongly with the VIT to address around registration for preservice teachers graduating in 2020. The VIT has agreed that teachers graduating in 2020 will have the required placement reduced by 25%. Students can see the new requirements here. The VIT has also agreed to include professional experience undertaken online which some universities have negotiated for their students with schools in this period.

To further support preservice teachers, the AEU has acted swiftly to modify our typical program of training for student teacher members. The Student Teacher Conference on 23 September is now on online event for the first time ever and the usual program of training on applying for jobs will continue online without disruption.

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