What to Expect on Placement

Created on: 14 Feb 2019 | Last modified: 11 Apr 2024

Teacher teaching

Your first school placement can seem daunting, but it can also be a lot of fun.

Placement gives you the opportunity to put into practice all the skills that you have learned so far and 'find your feet' in the classroom.

Before you begin:

  • Research your school and find out as much about it as you can. School website/Twitter/Facebook pages are often useful sources of information and news
  • Talk to other students, lecturers and your Student Education Society to build up a picture of what to expect
  • Visit the Education Scotland website education.gov.scot which contains all HMiE inspection reports and general information and support for teachers. The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) website also contains advice for student teachers and can be found at www.gtcs.org.uk
  • Request login details for the school’s computer network
  • Get a copy of the school's staff handbook and behaviour policy
  • Find out how long it takes to travel to the school and what the best route to get there is.


Arrange, with your mentor and Headteacher, a time to visit the school prior to commencing your placement. Use the opportunity to find out which classes you will teach, levels, any significant information about individual pupils that you should be aware of (medical, behavioural etc) as well as the policies and protocols of the school.

First day:

  • First impressions count so make sure that you arrive in plenty of time and have school and mentor contact details with you in case of an emergency
  • Dress appropriately. You should look smart but stay practical because you need to feel comfortable when you are working with children
  • Smile and introduce yourself to your new colleagues. This may seem difficult if you are nervous but remember, they have all been through the same thing before and will be happy to help you settle in
  • Try to learn your pupils' names quickly; one good way to help remember them is to create a seating plan.

Introduce yourself to your school EIS Representative while you are on placement and be part of union activities in school.

It's a good idea to find out who the EIS Rep is at the start of your school placement and make sure that the Rep knows you are a student member. You may want to ask for advice or information. Take the opportunity to attend any school EIS meetings held during your placement.

If a school EIS Rep is not available, then please contact the appropriate Organiser for your TEI.

Throughout your placement

Your health and wellbeing are important

woman reading

Teaching can be a stressful and exhausting profession so taking care of your own health is very important. Support should be available in school or through your university so please talk to someone if you need to. The well being of everyone in a school community is a fundamental pre-requisite for productive teaching and learning.

Always ask questions

If you are unsure about where to find something, how to set up equipment or how you should deal with a particular issue, your colleagues and your mentor should be able to help.

Be professional

If you find yourself socialising in a place where pupils or parents from your school may be, then remember to behave appropriately. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are now part of personal and professional life. It is important to think carefully about your privacy settings on personal accounts and devices and familiarise yourself with the school’s social media use policy for any professional accounts and devices.

Regularly update your school experience file

If you keep this organised, then you will avoid trying to remember experiences and writing last minute updates.

If you become ill

You should inform your school as well as your university tutor immediately.

Join the Union

Join the Union

EIS membership is FREE to students and will automatically be upgraded to full EIS membership at the start of your induction year. EIS Membership continues to be free for up to 16 months from the start of your probation.

The EIS is the largest and most influential teachers’ organisation in Scotland. With around 60,000 members, it is the union of choice for over 80% of the profession. The EIS campaigns for improved salaries and conditions for all teachers and lecturers.

EIS benefits include advice and assistance while you’re on placement and legal protection and insurance against theft and damages arising from work as a teacher.