Update on Student Teaching Placement Module in Physics at Swansea University

What we believe is the first UAS-supported activity in Wales ran for the first time in 2011-12 when six third-year physics students at Swansea University spent each Wednesday morning of our second Teaching Block working at one of three partner schools in Swansea as part of our new 10 credit module Teaching Physics via a School Placement.

Physics teacher training 2013 dcwThe students chose the option at the beginning of the year, and were quickly helped through the process of obtaining CRB  clearance by our College of Human and Health Sciences, who have much experience sending out student nurses on placement. Since we don’t have an Education Department, our pre-placement Training Day in early February was provided by Pam Bashford from Swansea Metropolitan University; indeed, Pam played a leading role in shaping the course, preparing the documentation and devising the assessment, which includes keeping a log of observations and teaching activities across a range of science subjects and Key Stages, preparation of a written learning resource suitable for a specific Key Stage, and a written assessment by the Teacher/Mentor overseeing the placement within School.
We were very fortunate in this regard to have the expert help and commitment of three excellent teachers: Huw Davies at Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive, Danielle Blythe of Olchfa Comprehensive and Pete Lloyd of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg, Bryn Tawe. As the name implies, the last of these placements was in a Welsh medium school, where our students, who this year happened not to be fluent in Welsh, were still able to work with sixth-form pupils. With each school we prepared the groundwork by drafting a Declaration of Intent and Understanding, with the assistance of our Collaborative Provision Committee, signed by both the headmaster and the Head of the College of Science at Swansea.
For each student the Teacher/Mentor provided invaluable guidance and encouragement. Written assessments at the course end were supportive: ... very confident and relates well to other people – he prepares well and is clearly passionate about his subject. I’d encourage him to learn to listen to and consider the advice of others a little bit more. He will make a very good teacher....Very willing to circulate among pupils and help them. He was attentive, patient and would give good and relevant feedback. Was quietly confident in dealings with pupils and staff, takes advice on board. We’re so grateful to our teacher colleagues for the time and effort they devoted to this project, and are pleased that all three are keen to continue into Year Two, when we have another six students ready to put a toe in the water.
Perhaps the best testimony to the success of the scheme is that two of the six successful pioneers are now enrolled on PGCE courses in the UK (two are still in the final year of an M.Phys. degree). Another good outcome is that our colleagues in Computer Science have set up a similar scheme running in Teaching Block one, overseen by Prof. Faron Moller - indeed, the positive impact on our students’ future employment prospects is recognised by the University, and the module is flagged as such in the HEAR transcript.