The Placements Office works each semester to place all students within the Education faculty. At Monash Clayton this means all students completing a double degree in Secondary Education/x other degree, and students completing the new Masters of Teaching, who have already completed their undergraduate degree.

I am currently a third year Arts/Secondary Education student and my previous experience of the placement office – while adequate – has never filled me with great confidence. Previously never having had issues with placement, I know of cases where students were only informed of where their placement was on the day said placement was due to begin. Also of students placed beyond the acceptable travel times that the placements office specifies, 60 minutes private transport, 75 minutes via public transport, one way. However in my first two years these cases were uncommon enough that they seemed more blips than a true representation of the Placements office’s work.

However any hope I may have had in the placement’s office being anything other than an inefficient, incapable body, prior to a break in my education degree last year, has been decimated with its abysmal performance this semester.

This semester the placement periods for all students, that is 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year undergraduate students and the new Masters of Teaching students have conspired to greatly overlap. In the first two weeks 1st and 3rd years have their 5-day placements. In the second two weeks the 2nd years have theirs. In these years students are still completing a second degree and as such have a shorter placement period to minimise the disruption to those non-education classes that continue to run.

The placement offices performance has been abysmal. Chiefly because they have to deal with an arrangement where the entire education cohort is on placement at the same time. There are only so many schools, and further to that, so many schools willing to take on student teachers.

So what’s happened, well across all year levels of the undergrad and masters there are students who have not been placed. Personally, I know that of a roughly 20 student 3rd year tutorial group roughly half did not get placed at all in the period. I was not informed of a placement until half way through the first week of the placement period, and thus had to cram the placement into 6 days. Many students are now suffering from the consequences of a compromised placement period which places their degree progress in dire straits.

Primarily this is because placements are a required hurdle task for each semester of education, not completing them means you don’t move ahead in the degree or masters. Further in very immediate terms a lack of placement affects assessment, with students across the faculty having assessment tasks designed around placement – and thus requisite of students attending a placement – often worth 50% if not 60% of the overall mark for a unit. Further particularly pertinent for 4th years and masters students, who are meant to be completing large blocks of placement; to become a registered teacher with the Victorian Institute of Teaching, a requirement to teach in Victoria, you need to have completed at least 45 days of supervised practice teaching. Finally a wider consequence is that the degree/masters without placements are a generally irrelevant educational experience.

So what is happening to rectify an unacceptable situation, that me and my 3rd year peers were informed was going to be the case just prior to the placement period. Well in a lecture we were informed that if we were not placed in the original placement period, we would not miss out but rather be laced at a later time. When a student asked when this later time would be the response was ‘probably SWOTVAC or the exam period’. I must point out this was not a response from the Placements office but our lecturer, who is a member of the education faculty. The faculty and the Placements office are two separate entities that seem to have very few working connections. This timing though is greatly problematic for undergrad 1st-3rd year students who still have classes in another degree and impending exams, which they need to complete and study for. When we pressed for more news we were told we just had to wait for the placements office, filling no one with confidence. The stress of not having a placement was horrendous; however it luckily was ended for me, for other students though this stress still remains as they remain unplaced. I cannot imagine how an unplaced first year student must be feeling right now.

So Placements Office you get an F from me.

Alexandra Bryant

The author Alexandra Bryant

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