Roles and responsibilities

School principals

When interns are appointed to a school they come under the administrative control of the principal and under the direction of those members of school staff to whom the principal delegates this responsibility. The school principal thus has a major role in the in-school internship program. It is hoped that at some time during the internship an intern would spend some time with the principal discussing details of the specific school, particular aspects of the role of teachers in the school and its community, and the leadership and management roles and responsibilities of a principal.

There are considerable advantages for interns if the school principal (either personally or by nomination of an experienced member of staff as school coordinator) can maintain a general oversight of all those interns placed in a school, to ensure that they are advised of school policy and receiving quality professional learning, and to provide opportunities for some extension of their experiences beyond the classes to which they are assigned.

Principals are reminded that legally the internship agreement signed by the NSW DEC provides
for interns to be given sole responsibility for supervising activities involving duty of care. However, interns are not to be used as casual relief teachers across the school.

Occupational health and safety induction

The University requires the principal or their nominee to inform all preservice teachers commencing professional experience placements regarding occupational health and safety (OH&S) policies and practices, relevant to the specific school site.

School internship coordinators

The role of school experience coordinator of interns may be assumed by the principal but this task may be delegated to an experienced member of staff, particularly in larger schools. Responsibilities of a school experience coordinator prior to and during a period of Internship include:

  • orienting interns to the school

  • ensuring that there is appropriate mentoring during the internship and that a quality professional learning program for the intern is in place

  • alerting the school's professional experience manager (02 9351 7047) whenever an intern is absent without explanation from the school, or where unusual circumstances or difficulties arise. All instances of absence should be noted and interns must apply for leave using the same procedures as those followed by teachers, except that their leave forms will be returned to the University at the conclusion of the internship

  • forwarding internship reports and claim forms for mentor teachers and school experience coordinators to the school's professional experience office administrator after the internship.

  • coordinating an induction process in which the preservice teacher is made aware of OH&S policies and practices. An information letter is enclosed within each coordinator’s pack. The relevant form, when signed, needs to be returned to the Office of Professional Experience.

Mentor teachers

The mentor teacher plays the most important role in the professional development of the intern. In many ways the relationship they form with the intern is one of co-teaching in which an experienced teacher is guiding the consolidation of practice of a novice teacher across shared classes.

Because each intern is conditionally certified to teach, the main role of the teacher working with them is not one of a supervisor but that of a professional mentor. They should be an experienced colleague who is an effective teacher in the classroom and the school, and who is committed to assisting an early-career teacher in their transition from university to the profession.

In the early weeks of the internship, there is a need for mentors to be present in a representative sample of the lessons the intern gives rather than in all lessons. However, after initially satisfying themselves of the competence of the intern, there is no need for continued observation of any lessons taught by the Intern. At the same time, to assist the professional development of the intern, it is important that mentors and interns regularly share and discuss classroom experiences and planning.

Research suggests that there are important differences in the manner in which experienced teachers make sense of classrooms, schools and teaching as compared with early-career teachers. An important strategy to assist early-career teachers to start to think about these contexts in the way that experienced teachers do, is for interns to discuss shared experiences with their mentors.

Should a mentor teacher believe that the intern is not able to teach at the level of Graduate Teacher as outlined in the relevant Internship Report form [report for Early Childhood programs (interactive pdf, 415kB) or reports for all other programs (interactive pdf, 654kB) and its associated Evidence
(pdf, 241kB), they need to commence the processes for students in need of additional support.

One of the most important advantages of being a mentor – and recognised by the NSWTF as central to the internship agreement – is for the mentor to be released from teaching to be able to undertake professional development. Mentors have the opportunity to avail themselves of two free days of professional development provided by the university.

Occupational health and safety induction

Please ensure that the preservice teacher receives information concerning OH&S policy and practice at the commencement of the placement period.

Tertiary mentors

The tertiary mentor has responsibility as the University's representative for liaison with schools, mentor teachers and interns. Tertiary mentors generally will make at least one liaison visit to each intern placed in schools in the Sydney region and maintain telephone/email contact during the period of the internship. The purpose of the visit is to meet with the intern and the mentor/s to ensure that everything is proceeding as would be expected and provide any advice and support that is necessary.

If concerns are raised about the development of the intern, additional tertiary-mentor visits may be arranged. In such cases the procedures for students in need of additional support should be followed, including documenting and communicating concerns, and constructing a remediation plan and timetable (pdf, 84kB). Expectations and support will generally be made more explicit.


Interns – comparably with any newly appointed teachers – work under the direct control and supervision of the school principal, the school experience coordinator and, where applicable, the specific school head teacher. It is assumed they will act in accordance with the roles and responsibilities established for any other teacher in that particular school. Detailed information about the expectations of the capabilities and responsibilities of interns is published in the next section.