This book is a comprehensive and practical guide to primary school placements. Written by experienced lecturers in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) from the University of Worcester, it is set in the context of the varying routes into teaching currently available in England. It is likely to appeal to trainee teachers and also perhaps would be useful for colleagues who are new to the mentoring role in schools.
The book has 11 chapters, each dealing with a topic related to primary school placements. Each chapter is clearly structured and starts with a flow chart, which outlines the content of the following text. Every chapter is linked to the specific English Teachers’ Standards (2012) covered and uses a mixture of helpful information, case studies and critical questions to support trainees’ understanding. Further suggestions for reading are also offered as well as a useful ‘frequently asked questions’ page and glossary at the end of the book.
Chapters in the book cover all the essential areas the trainee will need to focus on, including behaviour management, professional attributes, employability and placement practicalities. The first chapter, on reflection throughout practice, is an excellent starting point. It discusses the importance of reflection as a vital tool in informing trainee (and teacher) practice and outlines various models that can be used to support this. All the topics are covered in clear and accessible language.
Planning and assessment, teaching of the core curriculum and teaching inclusively are also covered in depth. However, with the introduction of the new national curriculum in 2014 and the new special educational needs (SEN) code of practice (2015) there is a need for these chapters (6, 7 and 8) to be rewritten and updated. ‘Stepping stones’ (p. 76) are referred to as part of the EYFS (early years foundation stage) curriculum despite this terminology being dropped some time ago and superseded by ‘development matters’ in 2012. I also felt that some of the language and information in the ‘Teaching inclusively’ chapter needed updating and tweaking. For example, when discussing children for whom English is an additional language (EAL) we need to ensure that trainees do not think of them as having a special educational need. On p. 112 a critical question relating to the case study talks about a child’s difficulties with language when in fact the issue he has as a learner, who is new to English, is a lack of English vocabulary, not a problem with language itself. Equally, the guidance about seeking advice from a SENCo as opposed to the inclusion manager in this situation may be misleading.
That notwithstanding I thought this was an incredibly useful book, which I feel would be very helpful for trainee teachers whatever their route and one that I (especially when it is updated) will be recommending they find in the library.
Reviewed by Rose White, University of East London
Review by (Rose White) (2015) ‘Primary school Placement: a critical guide to outstanding teaching’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol 5 (No.No.2), 47–50. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 5 No 2 November 2015