The purpose of PLaN is (i) for schools to have valuable educators to assist teaching and learning and (ii) for preservice teachers to gain additional experience in local school contexts to assist them to meet the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
Pre-Service Teachers are allocated to local schools, where they work with small groups or individual students to assist with literacy and numeracy. Students are placed by either (i) Pre-Service Teachers expressing an interest to be involved in the project. Schools are then contacted by USQ to be involved in the project or (ii) Schools express interest in being involved in the project and the Initial Teacher Education website is used to offer these opportunities to the Pre-Service teachers.
Evidence of growth
In November, 2016, a trial was undertaken with one local school. After the success of the trial, key stakeholders were identified in local primary and high schools in close proximity to the three campuses of the University. By March 2017 there were 13 schools and 26 students involved.
As the success of the program grew in the local schools, a decision was made in April 2017 to extend this opportunity to online students to volunteer in local schools, which had the benefit of giving the Pre-Service Teachers experience in the local context. A coordinator was engaged to liaise with the students, professional experience coordinators and contact possible schools. Schools that previously had not taken professional experience students were valued in the engagement, as it was hoped they would host the Pre-Service Teachers already volunteering in their school for professional experience in the future.
The project has teachers placed in primary, secondary and special schools, including regional and remote Chinchilla, Charters Towers and Dirranbandi State School. Pre-Service Teachers spent an average of 1.5 hours a week in the classroom. We have students involved in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to students.
We have developed partnerships with schools through a process of communication and building relationships. We have evidence of schools giving priority practicums/internship to USQ Pre-Service Teachers because of the PLaN partnership. We have also been advised of a Pre-Service Teacher engaged in this project who has been offered a job upon her graduation in June, 2018. This term we have had schools contact USQ to be involved in the project. The following graph shows schools and Pre-Service Teachers that have been involved in the project. Please note, the Active schools (students currently actively engaged in PLaN in a school) in March 18 does not include an additional 18 Pre-Service Teachers that will commence in schools in Term 2, 2018. (This represents 88 schools Active Schools in April 2018 and a total of 192 Pre-Service Teachers and 134 schools involved throughout the project to date).
Expansions and extensions
We have extended to regional involvement, such as Education Queensland Metropolitan West Early Childhood cluster and are currently working with two Flexible Learning Centres to gauge the possibility of partnerships as well as a TAFE. Schools have contacted us to seek support for students after school for homework clubs.
A Studydesk has been established for our PLaN Pre-Service Teachers to support them in gathering evidence for their QCT digital portfolio.
A research project has been designed to determine the effectiveness of the project for the schools and the effect on the employability and school readiness of Pre-Service Teachers.