Placement Details

School Name: St Joseph’s RC Primary School.

Mission Statement: ”Faith, Excellence, Success, Laying the Foundations for Life” is an integral part of life at St Joseph’s. This is not only academic excellence but also striving for excellence in Catholic values.


Justification for choosing this placement: For my Learning from Life placement I will be based in a small Roman Catholic School in Whakatane, New Zealand. St Joseph’s is a small school of around 280 pupils made up of years 1 through to 8. I’ll be working primarily in Room 7 (year 2/3) with Mrs Jackson. I was very keen to go abroad for my LfL placement for two key reasons- I love traveling and I hope to teach abroad after completing my probationary year and so I wanted to experience school life in another country. I am particularly keen to work in a school for this placement because I am dedicated to furthering my skills for future practice and keenly interested in how different education systems work. I find New Zealand extremely attractive- both the country and their curriculum and so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out a little more about a local school!

At this point, it’s not 100% clear as to what my daily roles and responsibilities shall be. However what I do know is, I am fully committed to starting this placement with a completely open mind and a willingness to learn, a desire to be helpful and great enthusiasm to do well!

Learning from Life Placement Proposal Form

For the Learning from Life module, I have secured a placement in a primary school in Whakatane, New Zealand. Over the six weeks I will be working in a range of different classrooms to gain a broad overview and understanding of how life at St Josephs Primary School works. There will be the opportunity to observe a wide range of age groups, classes and teachers in action. As well as spending my initial time observing around the school, I will also be active in seeking opportunities to help and participate in classroom life- taking reading groups, performing lessons, helping with planning etc. Due to the time of year of the placement, there will also be an opportunity to attend a week-long activity camp. I think this will be a really interesting and valuable experience in terms of grasping important cultural elements of New Zealand’s education system.

I’ve chosen this setting because I find the learning ethos in New Zealand very attractive and I would love to experience it first hand. I am particularly interested in learning more about the importance of outdoor-learning and teacher autonomy in their education system. I love sport and I’m a big advocate of spending as much time outside as possible, something that I understand is emphasised in New Zealand and I would love to find out more about what this looks like in terms of a normal school day. As well as this, after graduating I would love to spend time working in New Zealand for a number of different reasons and I feel that this placement is a perfect opportunity to gain experience of what life as a teacher in New Zealand is like.

I feel the benefits of performing this placement abroad are many- learning more about a different culture, creating contacts in the teaching profession around the world, experiencing a completely different education system and travelling to an area of the world I’ve never been to before. In terms of what I can bring to the placement, I like to think that first and foremost my enthusiasm and commitment to learn and improve will be of benefit. After completing my first year professional placement, I feel I have a good understanding of what is required of me as a student teacher in terms of professionalism and dedication. I think my prior experience working with children from different cultures, for example when I taught for a year in Ghana and when I worked as a general councillor in America, will help me to feel comfortable and confident in a new and unknown setting.

SPR Goals

Social Justice

  • I aim to embrace and implement the schools behaviour policies so that the children have continuity and understand what is expected of them
  • I aim to encourage and promote the four capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence through example and encouragement
  • I aim to engage and remain up to date with world events and use this knowledge


  • I aim to regularly ask relevant questions to gain a better understanding of all elements of teaching
  • I aim to reflect insightfully and critically so that I am able to progress as a professional.

Trust and Respect

  • I aim to develop relationships with each individual pupil in my class and through this display trust and respect
  • Through relationship and good behaviour management, I aim to create an environment where the children feel save to engage and express themselves whilst learning
  • I aim to understand each child is an individual and therefore needs to be treated as one

Professional Commitment

  • I aim to show commitment and enthusiasm as part of my daily routine through the way I conduct myself, speak and interact with both staff and pupils and present myself in terms of appearance but also in the way I work
  • I aim to fully engage with the professional reading to show my commitment to growing as a professional as this is something I have struggled with in the past

Dancing Queen? Not so much.

I’ve never found the thought of dancing particularly inspiring. In fact, I decidedly dislike the idea. Unless we’re talking about a good old ceilidh, there’s nothing about the thought of having to dance in front of people that I like. I’ve always been into sport and I don’t really have a problem with performing, particularly in front of children, so it wasn’t like I had major anxiety when I learnt that dance is a part of the curriculum. It’s more that I just didn’t really fancy it- I have absolutely no experience in the field and consequently, didn’t have the foggiest idea what we might have to get up to. I envisioned myself in years to come trying to choreograph dance lessons for my classes and truth be told, even in my imagination it didn’t go exactly…swimmingly.

However, good news! The tutorial was neither as odd nor as discouraging as I had anticipated. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I’ve learnt that the learning outcomes for dance are remarkably do-able and actually make a lot of sense. Where I previously questioned whether or not dance belonged in the curriculum (extra curricular undoubtedly, but is it really necessary to be part of the school day?) by looking into it further and exploring the experiences and outcomes in more detail I’ve come to accept that dance does indeed hold its own.

Despite my admittedly limited experience, I have always valued the idea of interdisciplinary learning and I think dance is a good example of when this can be achieved. For example, I have always been passionate about story telling and in the past I have found it hard to bring it alive for children who perhaps don’t share this interest. I think the E’s and O’s for dance provide an opportunity to introduce story telling in a completely new light that could potentially spark an interest that wouldn’t be possible in a classroom.

‘Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express my ideas, thoughts and feelings through creative work in dance.’

EXA 0-09a/EXA 1-09a/EXA 2-09a

As I slowly become more familiar with the Curriculum for Excellence it’s becoming clearer and clearer what is trying to be achieved in Scottish classrooms and I honestly think it’s an exciting time to be entering the profession of teaching.

Walt Disney, the new generation is coming for you!

When I reflect over my years at primary school, the sort of lessons that stand out in my memory are without doubt the ones that were a little different from our normal day-to-day schedule. It was for this reason that the idea of teaching animation in a classroom really captured my imagination. I know for a fact that it would be the sort of thing I would have loved as a child and if done right, I can imagine it being a lot of fun to teach as well as to learn! I really appreciated the way that Sharon demonstrated (in just an hour!) how we could build up a child’s understanding and skills in the animation world through a number of different progressive lessons. As a class we went through the various stages, starting with the basics and moving onto sophisticated animated productions. I was introduced to programs that I had never even heard of before and was surprised to find how easy they were to use and to understand. In my experience, primary aged children can be exceptionally intuitive when working with technology and I can only imagine that a classroom full of children could produce some really interesting pieces of work! I particularly loved the idea that lessons such as these could be a new and interesting way to incorporate and develop various elements within the curriculum- language skills, IT skills and even communication skills. The workshop really helped me to start thinking about the various opportunities open to us as modern teachers with such a wide access to technology and equipment. There are so many different ways to capture children’s imagination within the confinements of a classroom and I feel both inspired and excited to start exploring this concept in more detail over the next few years!



Peer Review- TDT Part 2

I really enjoyed receiving peer feedback on my original post titled ‘what is it to be an enquiring practitioner?’ The comments made by my colleagues were both positive and insightful, but at the same time very constructively critical.

It was the consensus of the comments that I could’ve gone into more detail in providing examples of the positives and negatives regarding being an enquiring practitioner. Prior to the comments, I hadn’t registered the fact that I needed to go deeper to really answer the question fully. Having this highlighted to me was one of the most beneficial aspects of this task.

In terms of providing feedback, I really appreciated the opportunity to read my colleagues work and see how others answered the question. Each post that I read took a slightly different approach from the next and had a unique attitude. This was really interesting and I think I will continue to use this technique to learn from my colleagues in the future.

I feel that this has been a useful task in drawing attention to the benefits of peer review. Where previously I wouldn’t have been particularly positive regarding the advantages to performing such a task, I feel that because the comments made by my peers really helped me to notice the weaknesses in my writing I will be far more inclined to continue using peer review as I continue my professional development.

What can we learn from other professionals?

Working in a professional manor is something that is far from limited to the teaching career. Consistently displaying respectable professional attributes, behaviour and good conduct are paramount aspects of many lines of work. This is effectively communicated when watching ‘One Born Every Minute’- a programme following specific stories of a hospitals delivery suite.

Throughout the entire programme the various professionals involved during the birth of a baby- including nurses, midwives and birth specialists- displayed a number of noticeable professional skills. For example, each member exhibited an obvious level of concern and care for their patients. They helped to keep the people in their care as relaxed and peaceful as possible by using calming language and maintaining a consistent qualified and well practiced demeanour. Through remaining relaxed and in control of the situation, particularly throughout difficult situations, they displayed great levels of expertise and experience for their given speciality. They showed skills in assessing each patient as an individual and what the best form of treatment would be for that situation and person, treating each individual with respect and in high esteem- exactly as one should. Each person dressed both respectably and appropriately whilst still managing to express individuality and personality- for example, by wearing a Hijab.

I felt that throughout the entire programme everyone involved displayed professionalism. Consequently, even when patients were going through an intensely distressing time, they were kept up to date and constantly aware of what was going on. I can only imagine this helped to make a truly horrible experience as easy as possible considering the beyond difficult circumstances. For me, this has really emphasised that having a strong level of knowledge and expertise is closely linked to behaving professionally.

Considering this, I feel that my attitude towards how different learning styles should be prioritised throughout a degree has changed. Where I still believe that practical based training should play a massive part of learning, I understand in a much clearer way that performing background reading and attending lectures is also vitally important. Without knowledge and a clear understanding of your profession, how do you expect to behave with integrity and in a way that demands respect?

Alongside the impressive behaviour of the professionals throughout the programme, I also particularly liked when the camera focused briefly on a man cleaning the corridor of the ward. I felt that this discreetly highlighted the need for all professionals to work together and successfully for operations to run smoothly.

Through watching this programme with a critical eye, I first and foremost feel that I have a renewed sense of respect for professionals. Throughout my studies, I want to remember how impressive it is to behave in a way that displays true proficiency and expertise. I want to be a teacher that not only works as an efficient educator, but as a role model for each of my pupils.

What does it mean to reflect?

Through reading over unit 3 of the online modules my understanding of what it means to write reflectively has definitely improved. Previously when I considered the word ‘reflection’, I thought it to solely mean ‘to look back on’. I hadn’t contemplated the idea that when writing essays, it has a heavier meaning.

However, I now feel that I understand the importance of identifying where it was that I went wrong and how to increase my understanding of any given topic when reflecting. I appreciate the significance of understanding feedback and how to apply it in the future. In the past I have found it difficult to fully accept critical feedback when I’ve put 100% effort into a piece of work. However as I gain more experience and practice, I welcome that this is a huge part of learning and developing both as a person and a professional.

What is it to be an enquiring practitioner?

To be an enquiring practitioner is to ‘find out or investigate with a rationale approach that can be explained or defended’, as defined by Menter et al (2011). In other words, being an enquiring practitioner is performing the continual act of research and reflection in order to positively impact a pupil’s academic experience.

It’s my understanding that enquiring practice is an act performed by professionals, either individually or collaboratively, where time is set aside to analyse the systems in current use and see if there is any room for development. It’s easy to get ‘stuck in your ways’ both in a professional and a personal sense. But through performing constant critical reflection we create opportunities to identify areas of work that are in need of improving.

This- a continual attempt to progress forward- is an obvious benefit to being an enquiring practitioner. However there are, of course, challenges that come with it too. For example, there is always the potential for difficulties to arise when performing collaborative work; misunderstandings between group members, lack of motivation, differences in learning styles etc.

As a student teacher, I understand that being an enquiring practitioner is going to be an integral part of my new profession. I hope that being aware of its meaning and the benefits of integrating it into my day-to-day professional practice will allow me to fully participate and make the most of the skills that come along with it.

A reflection of my understanding of my academic skills

Online Unit- 2B)

After spending time working on unit 2 of the online modules, it’s come to my attention that my knowledge and understanding of basic grammar is in particular need of developing. I’ve realised that although I feel confident in my writing abilities, I desperately need to address my understanding of the English language ‘rules’ when it comes to writing as well as furthering my knowledge of why things are the way they are. I found the Study Skills Book (pages 252-265) particularly useful when it came to defining common grammar terms and what they are used for.

As well as highlighting specific areas that I am in need of developing, I also found the exercises encouraging. For example, when reading the assigned pages of the Study Skills Book, I felt comfortable and confident with the information regarding sentences and paragraphs.

I think over all it was a useful exercise for me to systematically address my knowledge of the basics and I now feel more secure in my understanding of my own academic skills and abilities.

Active Learning

Active learning is defined as ‘any instructional method that engages students in the learning process. In short, active learning requires students to do meaningful learning activities and think about what they are doing.’

Personally I find active learning very helpful. In fact, without applying techniques like using different colours to reference my work or re-writing notes I’ve taken during lectures, I find it very difficult to retain information. When I look back to when I was studying for my final exams at school, I realise that I engaged with active learning on a very regular basis- it’s definitely a style of learning that I can employ.

I find that when I’m working towards a project or an essay, I need to understand exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing so that I can in turn, fully apply myself to the task in hand. I think that this is largely linked to active learning, as proved by the definition; ‘active learning requires students to do meaningful learning activities and think about what they are doing.’

In my opinion, this is one of the main benefits of implementing skills and techniques defined as active learning. Knowing exactly what you’re doing and why and keeping your brain actively engaged with the task is vital to successful learning.

In relation to this, working collaboratively with peers is also linked closely to aspects of active learning.

I think one of the most obvious benefits of working co-operatively is the idea that each individual person has the ability to bring something completely unique to a group discussion. This can spark all sorts of new ideas or thoughts that one person might not have considered on their own. Working as part of a team reduces the responsibilities of each person and instead, provides an opportunity for equal distribution of work and tasks.

Values and Virtues

As an extension to being asked to discuss and define 5 different professional virtues, I found myself considering what I thought were some of the most important qualities to display as a teacher and why. And after spending some time on the task, it has become clear that each trait I value highly is closely linked to the other. But even more obviously, they’re all about acting and behaving in a way that I would be proud to demonstrate to my pupils.

  1. Conscience
  2. Integrity
  3. Honesty
  4. Tolerance
  5. Respect

Your conscience allows you to evaluate your actions and your thoughts with a moral sense of what is right and what is wrong, either before you act on them or after. I believe that having a professional conscience in the teaching field is vitally important-understanding that as a teacher your actions, your words and your behaviour can have serious repercussions to a child’s understanding and experiences of education is, in my opinion, central to your journey to becoming a person of educational influence.

Both in my personal life and as an aspiring professional, I feel that to have and to display integrity is crucial. To exhibit the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles in your daily proceedings shows honour and reliability. I believe that this in turn demonstrates that you are a serious professional who is willing to stick to what they believe, even if this is difficult.

Honesty is, of course, an important virtue to honour both professionally and personally. Reputation is important, and if you have one of sincerity and truthfulness people will be willing to take your word seriously. And in my opinion, trust is an incredibly important part of being respected.

To show tolerance is to demonstrate the ability and the willingness to accept opinions or behaviour that you might not agree with. If we are to teach our children to grow and develop into effective contributors and responsible citizens, we must also teach them to understand that people will not always agree with their belief or outlook. And therefore it is our responsibility as educators to illustrate the kind of behaviour we expect from our children by having an open mind and displaying tolerance when necessary.

I think that in a professional sense, to show respect is to have due regard and to value people and their work. This in many ways goes hand in hand with tolerance- even if you don’t agree with someone’s views or work ethic, it is still important to treat everyone with respect and professionally.

Is it time for a shake up?

One of the most thought provoking podcasts I’ve listened to since coming to study Education at university was one by a Sir Ken Robinson, a man who along side other things acts as an international adviser of education. During a talk titled ‘changing educations paradigms’, he compares our current education system to that of a working ‘factory’. He comments on the idea that we are still using a system designed for a completely different era to that of which we’re experiencing now- the industrial revolution- and he asks the relevant question of ‘why is it we put our children through education by their age?’ In reference to this he states ‘it’s almost like the date of their manufacture is the most important thing we have to consider!’ and for me, it was this that sparked a personal revolution in the way I view our year groups in this country.

Although it seems natural to accept the fact that different children learn at different speeds and therefor achieve milestones at different points both academically and emotionally, I’ve never considered that our education system should model this truth. Up until recently, having only ever experienced the Scottish education system, it seemed only natural to me to go through school along side children my own age. However during my year teaching in west Africa, I was exposed to another style of ‘streaming’; each year group varied in size, ability and age. Initially this struck me as being disorganised and made it even harder to set appropriate work for the whole class. However upon reflection, and considering Sir Robinson’s comments, this idea of children being grouped together by something as meaningless as age seems more and more bizarre.

Perhaps it is time to shake up the way we educate our children. As Sir Robinson states, we’re no longer living in times of industrial revolution. Does that mean our whole education system is obsolete? However if we were to stop putting children through school with their peers, would that potentially create a void for social development…would it create a system where the ‘more able’ children excelled but the ‘less academic’ were left behind?