It is planned that school placements will proceed in primary and post-primary schools in this school year 2020/2021.
School Placement is a critical part of initial teacher education (ITE). It is first and foremost a space and time where student teachers learn to become teachers. It enables the student teacher to experience teaching and learning in a variety of contexts, and to participate in school life in a way that is structured and supported.
I acknowledge that adaptability and flexibility will be essential to ensure the continuity and implementation of school placement in a Covid-19 context. However, professional accreditation works on the principle that ITE programmes prepares qualifying teachers for the professional requirements and expectations of the classroom environment as it is.
Given the exceptional circumstances that are faced by the education system, officials from my Department and the Teaching Council engaged with the Higher Education Institutes (HEI) and relevant stakeholders in relation to how school placement could be implemented for the 2020/21 school year in the context of Covid-19.
The Teaching Council has published a Guidance Note for School Placement which sets out a clear and flexible framework which is consistent with Council policy on school placement and ITE, for both HEIs and schools in relation to the planning and facilitation of school placement for the academic year 2020-2021. It will also serve as a guide if Covid-19 impacts on school placements in the coming year.
I acknowledge that ongoing engagement with, and between HEIs and schools is vital in light of the evolving context we find ourselves in. In this regard, the Teaching Council will convene stakeholders to the process from time to time to facilitate the sharing of best practices in the practical implementation of this guidance.