10 Ways to Maximise your Work Experience Placement in a School

I was reminiscing on the work experience I did in order to ensure I got on the PGCE; there were bad ones and amazing ones. I’m going to give you 10 top tips to make sure that you don’t have to suffer a week of sitting at the back of the class observing the teacher. This is all well and good but we learn by doing! And do you must!

  1. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail! Make a short list of things you’d like to achieve out of the time you are in that classroom/school. If you go in with a clear and reasonable set of ideas that you can pass on to the class teacher you are more than likely going to get a value added experience. Wondering where to even start with such a list? Well keep reading as there are plenty of ideas to follow 🙂
  2. Group work: Supporting a group of children is the easiest thing that you can do on a work experience placement in school. It requires no prior work and is something that the class teacher will likely ask you to do anyway. This will allow you to interact with the children and will give you plenty to write about when it comes to writing a personal statement.
  3. 2+2=5?: If you are going to get onto a PGCE course then your best chance is evidence that you have planned and delivered an activity to at least a small group of children yourself. Ask the class teacher if this would be ok and make sure you ask what topics they are covering in class that week. Make your activity fun and engaging- Maths is the easiest subject to turn into a game so get creative!
  4. Elicitation: Wondering what that means? Well get used to it, the education sector is full of jargon and abbreviations. Elicitation is hot hot hot in terms of the PGCE. So doing an elicitation activity with a group of children means your personal statement will pop right up on the radar of the people reading it.  So what is elicitation? In the most simplest terms it is finding out what the children know.  As a teacher it’s something I do before starting a new topic in everything so as to make sure we’re not wasting precious time covering stuff the children already know. (Blog posts on elicitation to come shortly)
  5. Do you understand? Being an extra pair of hands in a classroom will almost definitely mean you will be asked to listen to children read. To maximise the potential of this opportunity ask the class teacher if you can prepare a comprehension activity based on the book of one of the children you are going to listen to. You may like to choose just one or a few different children to do these activities with. (For some simple but effective comprehension activities keep checking this blog)
  6. oo ee oo ah ah: Giberish right? No actually it’s phonics; something that was lost on me whilst studying for my PGCE. I wasn’t taught phonics at school so had no idea that there were specific sets of letters that combine to make certain sounds. By the way after teaching 5 year olds for almost a year I am now an expert and regularly drive people crazy by sounding out everything!  The point of this one is make sure you observe a phonics session! Phonics is another buzz word in the world of education and to mention it on an application is a sure fire way to get noticed. Once you’ve got a handle on phonics and you’re in a ks1or reception setting it would be a fab idea to ask if you can deliver a phonics activity to a group of children. Something extra to make your application that little bit more amazing.
  7. Volunteer: Being a teacher isn’t all about teaching children, it’s much more than that.  Are there any after school clubs that you could also volunteer in? Find out! When applying for a teaching position schools want to know what else have you got to offer. Do you have any sport skills? Are you musically talented? Either way volunteering at an after school club will show that you are willing to go the extra mile 🙂 and will be sure to get you a glowing reference from the school if you need one.
  8. Get Connected: The education sector is surprisingly small, somewhere along the line you are bound to meet someone who knows someone you did work experience with: Even more so if you are planning on looking for employment in the same area you are doing work experience in. So basically be nice, make friends and take in all the advice you are given. I mean every bit of advice you get might not be the best advice but you are there to learn, take it all in and mull on it all later. P.S teachers love free goodies so make sure you grace the staffroom with some with a little thank you note upon leaving!
  9. Hoarder Alert: Whilst on placements you are bound to see some fantastic resources. If you spot something that has the wow factor make sure you ask where its from. The internet is full of fantastic resources but it took me months and months to find something as simple as loop cards that I had seen a teacher use. If I had just asked where she had got them from I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort!
  10. FRANKIE SAYS RELAX: As clichéd as it is to have this as my last top tip believe me it’s a good one. Make sure you take the time to enjoy working with the pupils in the class and more importantly take the time to reflect on your experience. Teaching is a tough career choice, you will get stressed and be exhausted many many times. If you don’t enjoy the work experience (unless it was a poor one) then I can guarantee you won’t survive a PGCE, let alone a career in teaching. That being said I love my job and wouldn’t give it up for the world 🙂


That picture just about sums teaching up!

Cheers for reading, I hope it was of some use!

As always any requests for posts are gladly received.


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