PGDE students denied placements

Luke Newberry

Students taking the University’s Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) have missed two weeks of observation placements in Glasgow schools after an IT error by the School of Education.

Placements are intended as an introductory experience in which students gain first-hand knowledge of the internal functioning of schools and interact with staff and pupils. While placements are not assessed components of the course, students have expressed disappointment and annoyance at missing out on valuable classroom experience.

By way of replacement, the School of Education have approached professionals in the field to give a series of lectures. Often given in four-hour blocks, some students were reluctant to attend – arguing that they were of no use and a poor alternative to the introductory placements they were promised.

Students have also expressed concern over the attitude of course administrators toward the missed placements. Guardian sources requested anonymity due to concerns about what they described as the ‘political culture’ and fears of repercussions from course administrators within the School of Education.

These sources maintain that staff were reticent in offering apologies until approached by the Guardian, causing some to feel that they have not appreciated the gravity of the situation. It is also alleged that attempts have been made to ‘spin’ the situation. It has suggested to students that they benefit from the new arrangements, and that this year’s class is not the first to experience such difficulties. Students have complained of “shambolic” organisation characterised by the last minute event cancellations and poor department administration.

On top of this, students have expressed concern about the degree of control staff exercise in shaping students’ experiences on the course.

The Head of School and Head of Programme declined Glasgow Guardian’s requests for comment and a spokesperson for the university said on their behalf: “We would like to apologise to students undertaking the Post Graduate Diploma in Education who were expecting to attend two-week familiarisation placements in schools recently. Because of organisational difficulties, for which the school management accepts full responsibility, these placements did not take place.

“No student will experience any disadvantage from this, it is not part of their core assessed placement, and we would like to stress that the first formal teaching block in schools will go ahead as planned from week beginning 29 October.”

One student told the Glasgow Guardian: “I wish I’d gone to Strathclyde”.