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Frequently Asked Questions
Our frequently asked questions (categorise below) will help with most of the things you would like to know about professional experience placements, however if you should have any unanswered questions please email your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Placement: When, How and Where
When do I go on placement?
You can find out the dates of your placement by looking at the Professional Experience Calendar (PDF, 69 KB). The calendar is printed in the back of the handbook and is on the Professional Experience (Profex) website.
The academic year Professional Experience calendar is available in October of the current year to assist you in preparing for Professional Experience in the following year.
How do I find out about Professional Experience?
Attend the briefings, the dates and times of which are advised by email by the Director, Professional Experience. Check your email for updates. If you cannot attend a designated Professional Experience briefing, contact the Director to explain why. Ensure that you download the relevant notes from LearnJCU. Once you have carefully read the briefing notes, you will need to log onto InPlace to submit your placement preferences.
Please note that attendance is recorded at Professional Experience briefings. In some instances NOT attending may jeopardise your placement.
How do I get a placement if I am “out of step”?
If your professional experience program and your academic program are out-of-step for any reason, it is your responsibility to ensure that you apply to undertake professional experience subjects in a timely manner.
Third and final year professional experience
Generally, preferences for final year professional experience (ED4488-ED4489) and for third year professional experience (ED3093/ED3193/ED3293 and ED3488) are due in September of the year prior to the professional experience block. If you are an out-of-step student who requires a third or final year placement, you must make an appointment to discuss your placement with Profex (email@example.com) in the first week of September in the year prior to when you wish to undertake the practicum.
Second year placements
If you are an out of step student who requires a placement in ED2488, you must make an appointment to discuss your placement with Profex (firstname.lastname@example.org) first week of Semester 1 in the year you wish to undertake the practicum.
Students in the Graduate Diploma of Education
If you are an out-of-step student who wishes to be placed for ED5488, you must make an appointment to discuss your placement with Profex (email@example.com) in the first week of Semester 1 in the year you wish to undertake Professional Practices 2.
Failure to meet these deadlines will limit the opportunities to find you an appropriate placement.
How do I find out which school I will be going to?
Your school placement is organised staff in the Professional Experience Unit. You will be notified by email when placements have been finalised, you will then need to log onto InPlace to obtain your placement details.
If you are placed in an area (for example, Southern Queensland, interstate) where you may need to book a flight, you will be advised as soon as possible after the placement is confirmed.
Why is it difficult to organise a placement?
Why can’t I simply go to a site just down the road from where I live?
Every university has Education preservice teachers each requiring a number of placements during their course. Therefore, schools and early years centres are under constant pressure from universities to take preservice teachers all year round and often struggle to meet the demands.
Whilst schools and early years centres in North, and Far North Queensland try their best to accommodate JCU students, sometimes they can’t because of staffing issues.
JCU preservice teachers cannot be placed at a site where there may be a potential conflict of interest. For example, having a relative working or enrolled at the site or having worked at the site.
Can I choose my own school or kindergarten?
You are able to suggest a town or district. You CANNOT choose a particular school or kindergarten in any district.
The Queensland College of Teachers requires all preservice teachers to undertake Professional Experience in a range of settings. This should include state and non-state, small and large, regional and urban schools, and for Primary preservice teachers, experiences in upper and lower primary. Our placement system attempts to provide you a wide variety of experiences throughout your degree.
Under NO circumstances can any preservice teacher approach a school or a teacher to organise their own placement. This is a serious breach and you run the risk of being excluded from the program.
Can I choose a school system, private or state?
No. You can only express a preference.
Can I be placed in a school where family members work?
No. You are not permitted to undertake professional experience in a school where you have any close family relatives. A close family relative is a brother, sister, mother, father or any of the above in-laws. In general you are also not able to undertake professional experience in a school where you have an aunt, uncle or cousin. These situations represent a conflict of interest as the assessment of your professional experience must be seen to be fair and not subject to the intentional or unintentional influence of your family members. You need to list schools where you have a conflict of interest when you fill out your preferences in InPlace.
Can I be placed in a school where my child or close family members attend?
No. You are not permitted to undertake professional experience in a school where your child or close family members (for example, siblings) attend. You need to be able to focus on your role as a preservice teacher rather than your role as a family member. You need to list schools where you have a conflict of interest when you fill out your preferences in InPlace. Some consideration will be given to those in small communities.
Can I be placed at a school where I work?
No. You cannot undertake professional experience in a school where you are employed or have been recently employed. This situation would represent a conflict of interest. You need to list schools where you have a conflict of interest when you fill out your preferences in InPlace.
Failing to declare a conflict of interest may jeopardise your placement.
Can I change the dates of my Professional Experience?
You can only change the dates of your Professional Experience in exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances will need to be substantiated through a range of documentation.
Work or family commitments are usually not considered as exceptional circumstances.
Can I go interstate or overseas to do my Professional Experience?
In First, Second and Third year of the undergraduate program, you may express an interest to participate in professional experience interstate or in an overseas location. You should contact Profex to discuss these options before preferences are submitted.
We encourage all our preservice teachers to have at least one practicum in a remote setting.
We prefer students to complete their final professional experience in Queensland schools.
To be eligible for Queensland College of Teacher registration, students must complete the majority of their professional experience in Australian schools.
What if I can’t go out of town?
Under the Rules of Professional Experience preservice teachers will be required to attend placement in any location at their own expense. However, if preservice teachers have particular circumstances that would mean that severe hardship would result from an out of town placement, an application for special consideration (PDF, 173 KB) can be lodged with the Director of Professional Experience at the time of submitting your preferences.
- special consideration will not be given for normal family or work commitments
- if you are unsure of your eligibility for special consideration, you are encouraged to apply
- if your application for special consideration is accepted, placement is still subject to availability
Can I get financial assistance to go rural or remote?
Yes. Students can apply for travel grants to assist them to do their professional experience in rural or remote Queensland. Application for these grants will be advised at the Professional Experience briefings.
Can I apply for special consideration for financial reasons?
No. Under the Guidelines of Professional Experience preservice teachers can be required to attend placement in any location at their own expense. You are expected to plan financially to be able to undertake placements away from your home base. You may apply for special consideration if, due to exceptional or unforeseen circumstances, your financial planning to undertake a practicum out of Townsville is disrupted. However, you are unlikely to be granted special considerations under these circumstances more than once.
Do I need to contact the school before I start my placement?
Yes. You are required to contact the school as soon as you know your placement.
Will I know who my SBTE is and the class I will be teaching before I start?
In some instances, schools are able to advise preservice teachers of their SBTE, however this is not always possible. Preservice teachers should be aware that conditions in schools change quickly and your placement with a particular teacher or class may change at any time.
What if I get a placement I don’t like or can’t get to?
Once the placement list is posted, there is NO option to change schools unless there are extenuating circumstances, and with approval of the Director, Professional Experience.
Health and Wellbeing While on Prac
What if I am sick and I can’t go on placement?
If you have a medical condition that limits your opportunity to complete all the work involved in teaching, you should not go on Professional Experience. For example, if you have a broken collar bone and cannot write on the board, you should not attend your placement. Under these sorts of circumstances, and with a medical certificate, we are able to consider placement at an alternative time.
In the event that you cannot attend Professional Experience because of a medical condition, you should immediately advise the Placement Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) of your situation. You will also need to provide a medical certificate before any negotiation can occur.
Note: all negotiations with the school will be completed by the Professional Experience Unit staff, not by you.
What if I get sick during a week of Professional Experience?
It is a Queensland College of Teachers’ requirement that you complete the required number of days of professional experience. If you are sick for any days during your placement you must:
- Contact the school before the working day begins (usually by 8:00am) and advise them that you will not be in that day
- Provide a medical certificate to the school and a copy to the Professional Experience Unit
- Negotiate with the Professional Experience Unit to make up the days for your illness
Please note that it is not possible to make up missed days when lectures or tutorials are scheduled.
What happens if I have a medical condition?
If you have a medical condition, you need to advise the Director of Professional Experience as soon as it becomes apparent, or as soon as you feel it will impact on your professional experience. Support from Accessibility Services can also be arranged if appropriate.
What if my children become sick either before or while I am on placement?
It is a requirement of the Queensland College of Teachers that you complete the required days of professional experience. If your children become sick either before or are sick for any days during your placement you must:
- Contact the school before the working day begins (usually by 8:00am)and advise them that you will not be in that day
- Provide a medical certificate for your child to the school and a copy to the Professional Experience Unit
- Negotiate with the appropriate Professional Experience Unit to make up the days you missed due to your child’s illness
Note: it is not possible to make up missed days when lectures or tutorials are scheduled.
What will I do if I’m injured at school?
If you are injured, seek medical assistance, report the injury to your supervising teacher, complete an accident report form at the school, AND contact Profex in order to submit a report via Riskware at JCU.
What happens if I am pregnant?
If you are pregnant you need to obtain a medical certificate from your medical practitioner stating your expected due date and that you are fit to be in the workplace. This medical certificate is required by Workplace Health and Safety legislation and needs to be provided to your school and a copy to the Professional Experience Unit.
Note: in general, schools will not permit you to be on placement 6 weeks prior to or 6 weeks after the birth of your child (schools may vary with this requirement).
What do I do if I get stressed about my Professional Experience?
If your mental health is affecting your engagement in professional experience, please contact JCU Counselling Unit. The service is free for all JCU students.
While on Prac
What do I wear to school?
While the clothing requirements vary from school to school, it is imperative that you dress as a professional. JCU has shirts that are accepted in most locations.
Expectations for dress are outlined in Professional Experience briefings and include the need to wear covered shoes, protective clothing (particularly if you are working outdoors) and clothing that covers parts of your body, particularly your midriff and your shoulders.
You should also note that schools have varying requirements for piercings and covering tattoos. You are expected, as a professional, to adhere to the dress policies of your school.
Do I need to wear any identification on my professional experience?
Yes. You need to wear your JCU Student ID card in a plastic badge holder.
What resources will I need when I go on Professional Experience?
You will need to have your Professional Experience handbook and a folder containing all of your planning requirements. You will also need to have writing equipment and a notebook. Other resources that you may require are outlined in your Professional Experience handbook.
You must have a current Blue Card and you must wear your JCU Student ID badge.
What happens if I arrive at school late?
If you are late for a legitimate reason on a one-off occasion, the school will usually be tolerant. If you are late more than once, the school may lodge a complaint with the Professional Experience Unit and you will be called in for an interview with the Director.
What should I do if my SBTE is away?
The Professional Experience Coordinator at your school should assist you at this time. You will still need to be prepared to teach lessons, usually under the supervision of a relief teacher. It is not legal for you to teach without supervision. The implications of teaching without supervision are outlined in the Professional Experience handbook.
Can I leave the school early if I have to pick up my children from school or attend another place of employment?
When you are on Professional Experience you are on the job. You need to make sure that during your Professional Experience you are able to be at the school when your supervising teacher requests you to be there. This usually means arriving by 8am, and as you are required to attend all meetings and complete other work after school hours, this is often until 4.30pm. There are no exceptions to this requirement.
What if there is a public holiday or pupil-free day while I'm on Professional Experience placement?
If schools have a pupil-free day during Professional Experience, the school should determine the attendance and participation of the Pre-service Teacher for that day. We encourage the Pre-service Teacher to participate but understand that it is not always feasible. If this should occur, then Pre-service teachers are expected to negotiate additional time with their supervising teacher to make up the required number of Professional Experience days. Pre-service Teachers are also required to make up missed time in the event of public holidays.
Professional experience is intended for you to experience the working day of a teacher. Therefore, you must be prepared to be in school or centre for 8 to 9 hours on each professional experience day.
If a Problem Occurs
Who can I talk to if I have a concern about my placement?
In the first instance you need to talk with your SBTE about your concerns. Try to be specific in identifying what you are concerned about. You need to speak to the coordinator at your school if you are unsuccessful in your discussions with your SBTE.
The Professional Experience handbook includes an Intervention Notification for use by the preservice teacher, refer to your prac handbook.
The Director of Professional Experience is always available to discuss concerns that you may have. It is important that you contact us early rather than to leave it until it is too late.
The Intervention Notification is designed for use by preservice teachers, to trigger a response from the Professional Experience Unit in the event of a problem or concern. The required process is outlined in the prac handbook.
What happens if my school sends in an ‘At Risk’ notice during my practicum?
The Professional Experience Unit responds promptly to ‘At Risk’ or Intervention notices. We will arrange for the Academic Liaison to contact the school to talk with the coordinator, the SBTE and the preservice teacher. The preservice teacher will confer with the Director to develop strategies to address the concerns identified in the notice.
What happens if I fail my Professional Experience?
If you fail your Professional Experience, you will be asked to attend an interview with the Director to review the reasons for your failure. At this time an action plan to support the continuation of the program will be discussed as will options to seek alternative study options. However you should note that, unless failure has resulted from unprofessional or unethical behaviour, students have the right to one repeat practicum per phase.
What happens if I fail my professional experience but pass the academic work for a subject?
If you fail your practicum in a subject that has a practicum embedded in it, then you have failed the subject. Likewise, if you pass a practicum but fail the academic component of a subject with a practicum component embedded you have failed the whole subject and need to repeat the complete subject at a later date.
I want to withdraw from Professional Experience – how can I do that?
Once you have commenced your professional experience, you can only withdraw from a subject that has professional experience IF you have the approval of the Director. You must contact the Director immediately if you think you are going to withdraw from professional experience or you will jeopardise future placements.
What is a blue card, do I need one and how do I get it?
You must have a Working with Children check, and hold a CURRENT Suitability Card (blue card) to undertake professional experience. Your blue card number is required for your placement forms and schools will ask to see your blue card when you arrive at the school. Information about obtaining blue cards is included in enrolment packages.
If you live outside Queensland, and/or intend undertaking prac interstate, you will need to check the requirements for that state/country and ensure that you hold the relevant Working With Children or Police Check before you commence your Professional Experience.
Who needs a blue card?
Volunteers and preservice (trainee) teachers need a blue card if their work or practical placement in a school includes, or is likely to include providing services directed mainly towards children, or conducting activities mainly involving children, unless an exemption applies.
Examples of people who need a blue card:
- Volunteers assisting children in classroom activities
- Trainee students doing a practical placement at a school as part of their studies with an education provider