Preservice teacher

Preservice teachers in all teacher-education programs offered by the school must ensure they meet the particular curriculum requirements that are published for the unit of study associated with each Professional Experience placement they undertake. Such requirements will include:proportion of coursework successfully completed; assessment tasks and coursework assigned during lectures; and/or tutorials.

In the case of preservice primary and secondary teachers, criteria for assessment are aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Graduate Teacher. As well, specific sections of the Evidence Guide (pdf, 241kB) will be the focus of the Professional Experience being undertaken.

Any uncertainty regarding the expectations for a preservice placement or the requirements of the associated unit of study need to be clarified with the supervising teacher, the relevant tertiary mentor, or the school or centre's Professional Experience and unit coordinator.

Placement provider requirements

Attachment to a Professional Experience provider places the preservice teacher under the direction of the principal/early-childhood-service director and those staff who are designated to supervise the preservice teacher. Preservice teachers are required to conform to the policies and practices followed by all staff at the placement site. Procedures for using equipment and materials should be followed and the supervising teacher should be consulted before material is photocopied for classroom use.

Preservice teachers are expected to be present within the school for the full teaching day, including any reasonable expectations for attendance before and after the standard day. Absence at any time from the school needs to be clearly communicated and documented in the required manner. Other commitments such as extra coursework or employment must not interfere with commitment to the requirements of the Professional Experience.

Appropriate professional behaviour is an assessable expectation of any Professional Experience. Because preservice placements involve taking responsibility for the care and safety of young people and being in a position of influence, all preservice teachers should:

  • behave in a professional manner, including maintaining confidentiality

  • be focused on the placement (communication outside the centre should be limited, for example, no mobile phones or personal Internet use while working)

  • being aware that legal obligations placed upon teachers regarding child protection also apply to preservice teachers

  • be aware of confidentiality and privacy with respect to information regarding the school/early-childhood centre, teachers, students and community members. Use of social media such as Facebook regarding such information is not to occur

  • observe a professional standard of dress and speech

  • apply teaching and classroom management procedures consistent with those of the supervising teacher to avoid disrupting ongoing work in the class. This will provide opportunities for the development of basic teaching skills, leading to possibilities for more individual experimentation

  • accept any reasonable additional duties assigned by the supervising teacher and attempt to carry them out in a professional manner.

For further information, refer to the NSW Department of Education Code of Conduct, and The Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics (pdf, 37kB), either or both of which may apply to your placement and/or your working environment after graduation.

Work, health and safety

Preservice teachers must be made aware of work, health and safety policy and practices at the commencement of the placement period. A signed Work, health and safety induction checklist (pdf, 136kB) needs to be uploaded to SONIA on Day 1 of the placement and the original returned by the placement provider's Professional Experience coordinator or supervising teacher, when documents are returned at the conclusion of the placement.

Professional Experience placements can involve occupational hazards that present some risks to health and safety. The University has developed WH&S guidelines that have relevance to Professional Experience, including links to the system for reporting incidents to the University.


Ethical behaviour does not end at the school gate for teachers. Preservice teachers should inform themselves of the foundations of ethical behaviour online at the eSafety site:

Infectious diseases

Preservice teachers should be informed of the principles for prevention of the spread of infectious diseases. The best online resource for this is the Staying Healthy (pdf, 2.6MB) from the National Health and Medical Research Council website. The publication is pitched at Early Childhood educators but the principles pertain to all school settings.

Lesson observations

Preservice teachers engaged in Professional Experience for primary- and secondary-teacher-education-programs must maintain a record of observation lessons. The Lesson observation feedback form (editable pdf, 89kB) is an excellent format to guide observation of teachers and other preservice teachers, and is a requirement for observation for some courses.

Lesson/activity planning

All preservice teachers are advised to keep a journal reflecting on the events, lessons/activities and routines of each of their Professional Experience placements, both in and out of the classroom, to assist in the completion of assessment tasks and coursework. For many professional practice units of study, the 'Reflective Journal' is assessable and mandatory.

Preservice teachers are required to write detailed plans for every lesson/activity they deliver. These plans must be presented in the format described in the lectures given during the unit of study associated with the particular Professional Experience, for example, the 15-day placement that is integral to Professional Experiences 2 (Primary) (EDUP2010) is supplemented by lectures and tutorials at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, where templates for lesson plans appropriate for the level of Profession Experience will be distributed.

Because lesson plans should be discussed with and approved by the supervising teacher, they need to be prepared well in advance of the scheduled lesson time. In general, lesson plans should include:

  • details of the class (year, time, date, subject)

  • topic, syllabus outcomes and resources

  • lesson aim and student-learning outcomes

  • content and teaching/learning strategies

  • steps intended to both gain the learners’ interest and develop student learning

  • an indication of progression in lesson sequence, including introduction and conclusion

  • an assessment of what the students will be expected to have achieved during the lesson (linking back to the stated aims for specific student-learning outcomes)

  • a subsequent written reflection of teaching, including an indication of areas to be followed up.

Additional roles

When not presenting prepared lessons, preservice teachers who are participating in primary or secondary school placements are expected to:

  • assist in classroom and school activities

  • attend meetings and relevant programs

  • evaluate previously presented lessons

  • assist in assessment of students’ work

  • observe lessons by other teachers and peers

  • compile resources or engage in preliminary preparation for the following day’s activities.

Preservice teachers in primary or secondary school placements must cooperate in the performance of playground duty, help conduct and supervise timetabled sports, and assist in planning and running excursions. If a preservice teacher has been requested to attend a school excursion lasting more than one day, the consent of the director of Professional Experience should be sought, to ensure the excursion date/s do not clash with visits from the tertiary mentor. Preservice teachers in primary or secondary schools should consult with their supervising teacher concerning:

  • a program of observations of lessons

  • attendance at meetings and relevant programs

  • involvement in playground duty

  • involvement in sport supervision

  • other extracurricular activities.

Attendances and absences

The preservice teacher’s personalised attendance sheet must be signed each day and arrival and departure times recorded. Attendance for the total nominated days for each Professional Experience is mandatory, including attendance at required preplacement days.

All missed days – whether due to illness, misadventure or other unforeseen circumstances – must be made up by negotiation between the preservice teacher and their Professional Experience placement provider, and a record of this agreement filed with the OPE using the Negotiated make-up day form (pdf, 166kB). If attendance is less than 100 per cent, a "Fail" grade will apply to the affected Professional Experience unit of study. Public holidays do not need to be made up.

Punctuality is essential. Preservice teachers must not arrive late, leave early or be absent unless this has been approved by the University in consultation with the placement provider.

Preservice teachers in early-childhood centres must observe shifts/hours as negotiated with the centre director and supervising teacher. Preservice teachers in primary or secondary schools must observe arrival and concluding times specified by the school for all teaching staff.

Leave procedures

In the event of illness or some other serious circumstance preventing attendance on any particular individual day/s of the placement, preservice teachers should inform their tertiary mentor as well as their early-childhood centre's director, or the principal or Professional Experience coordinator of their school. Preservice teachers must:

  • obtain a medical certificate or other documentary evidence if absent for one or more days during the Professional Experience, whether or not these days occur consecutively

  • negotiate appropriate days to make up the absence with their supervising teacher and school Professional Experience coordinator/early-childhood centre director. Preservice teachers in early childhood centres must do this on their first day back at work.

  • complete and submit a Negotiated make-up day form (pdf, 166kB) to both the OPE and the Professional Experience placement provider prior to the commencement of the make-up day/s

  • consult with the OPE about whether the amount of leave taken also requires an Application for special consideration. For preservice teachers in early childhood centres, five days has been determined as the threshold before Special Consideration is necessary.

  • ensure any absences have been duly recorded in the attendance sheet

  • upon their resumption of duties from any absence, apply for leave using the same procedures as those followed by teachers, except that their leave forms, along with their attendance sheet, will be returned to the OPE at the conclusion of their placement.

Jury duty

Jury duty service does not entitle preservice teachers to an exemption from Professional Experience requirements. Appeals to be exempted from jury service may be lodged with the Sheriff’s Office. If declined, Professional Experience commitments must be fulfilled at a later date.

Industrial disputes during professional experience

Should a transport strike or other industrial dispute occur that would either limit the opportunities to participate in Professional Experience or create major difficulties in reaching a placement provider, preservice teachers should contact their school/centre and their tertiary mentor.

In instances where the industrial action involves the school or centre directly for a day or less, loss of Professional Experience does not need to be made up. When more than one day is lost, additional time will need to be made up. Preservice teachers may choose either to support industrial action affecting their placement provider or to attend as usual. If staff to whom a preservice teacher is attached are on strike and the preservice teacher attends the placement provider, it is inappropriate for him/her to take on any duties or responsibilities of absent teachers, including minimal supervision.

Preservice teachers who decide to attend a stop-work meeting/industrial action should inform their supervising teacher/s. If the industrial action continues for more than one day, the preservice teacher should seek guidance from his/her tertiary mentor about how to proceed.

Positive-behaviour guidance/discipline/welfare policy

Preservice teachers in early-childhood centres are expected to follow the positive-behaviour guidance policy of the early-childhood centre.

Primary and secondary preservice teachers are expected to follow the discipline/student welfare policy of the school providing their placement.

Preservice teachers in all settings are prohibited from using any form of corporal punishment, or any other sanction not permitted. Early in their placement, to ensure they are acquainted with the appropriate protocols, preservice teachers need to carefully read and discuss with their supervising teacher, the setting’s policy and practice relating to positive-behaviour guidance or discipline/welfare.

Accidents involving children

Accidents or mishaps to children during activities conducted by a preservice teacher must be reported to the supervising teacher, who is usually the responsible party under the law. As early as possible in the placement, preservice teachers should make themselves familiar with evacuation and any other safety procedures, as well as the location of first-aid kits and fire extinguishers.

Using the setting's photocopiers, computers and printers

The use of photocopying facilities has implications with respect to copyright laws and the costs involved to the PE placement provider. Preservice teachers should determine the photocopying procedures followed by individual providers and ensure that these are followed at all times. Access to the setting’s photocopier/s, computer/s and printer/s cannot be assumed. It needs to be discussed with the supervising teacher. Personal use without permission is not acceptable.

Professional Experience settings as alcohol- and drug-free sites

While attending Professional Experience placements, preservice teachers should bear in mind it is illegal to possess alcohol or other substances prohibited at child-care centres or schools. This prohibition includes smoking within the grounds. Contravening this requirement will result in the immediate termination of the placement and the possibility of the preservice teacher being asked to ‘show cause’ why their degree candidature should not be discontinued.

Child protection and mandatory reporting

Teachers' legal obligations regarding child protection also apply to preservice teachers. Failure to observe these ethical and legal responsibilities will result in an "unsatisfactory" grade for your Professional Experience and may also lead to legal investigation and its consequences (including University disciplinary action). Any uncertainty about your responsibilities should be discussed and clarified with your Professional Experience provider. If you witness situations or are concerned that a child is subject to abuse (whether it be physical, neglect, sexual or psychological) or if you find yourself in a situation where allegations are being made against you, follow the steps below.

  1. Do not interview a child on your own.

  2. Document the incident, then speak with your supervising teacher and tertiary mentor.

  3. Contact the Director of Professional Experience.

  4. Discuss the situation to determine what action needs to be taken.

Being directed to leave a Professional Experience setting

If a preservice teacher is directed for any reason to leave their assigned Professional Experience setting they should contact their tertiary mentor and the Director of Professional Experience immediately. It is to be expected that being directed to leave a setting will result in a "fail/unsatisfactory" grade for the Professional Experience component of the relevant unit of study.

Similarly, if a preservice teacher leaves a placement without the permission of the Director of Professional Experience, it will result in a “fail/unsatisfactory” grade for the Professional Experience component of the relevant unit of study.