School's in for Mildura teachers

Giving student teachers a complete classroom experience is a boost for their confidence and employability.

That's why head of La Trobe University Mildura campus Dr Deb Neal, in collaboration with Sunraysia primary schools, developed a teaching school model four years ago.

As part of the internship-style program, student teachers work in pairs and buddy up with one of the local school's leading teachers two days a week for six months.

"This came about because one of the principals at the time told me she was worried about graduate students starting in the classroom," Dr Neal said.

"She thought more could be done to provide them with more experience."

Often, the students request to stay for the entire year and are employed before they finish their degree.

Dr Neal estimates eight out of 10 graduate students on the Mildura campus stay and work in the district, with a majority of teaching graduates finding employment in the community.

"The schools involved have to take it to their council and invest their time in the students, who are treated like staff members," Dr Neal said.

This year's program was officially launched this week, with about half  - or 11 - of the fourth year students involved in the initiative.

"Unfortuntately, a lot of the students can't sacrifice paid work to do the program, so we're trying to get scholarships to enable more students to do it," Dr Neal said.

Ranfurly Primary School learning specialist Matthew McLeod said the students got to discover the "true aspect of the role", including student-led conferences and planning meetings.

"When you do a practical unit part of a normal course, you are inheriting a culture that's already been built by that classroom and teaching," ne said.

"Whereas with this program, the students build their classroom culture with me - it's an equal ownerships."

He said three of the students who last year taught at Ranfurly Primary School as part of the program have been offered employment by the school.

If you'd like to find out more about the Bachelor of Education (Primary), book in online for course advice appointment or call 5051 4000.

This article was written by Marina Hacquin for the Sunraysia Daily.

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