Schools supporting flexible professional experience placements in 2021

In recognition of the current COVID-19 environment, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has allowed for online and flexible arrangements for professional experience placements. These arrangements have been adopted by initial teacher education providers and the department.

The department is prioritising final year placements in Term 4 to ensure pre-service teachers remain eligible to graduate from their studies and enter the teaching workforce. We are asking every school to accommodate and prioritise placements in Term 4 for pre-service teachers due to graduate, where possible, in line with their level of school operation:

· Level 4: Final year student placements online only

· Level 3 plus: Final year student placements offered online, remote, face-to-face and/or alternative learning opportunities

· Level 3: Final and penultimate year students offered online, remote, face-to-face and/or alternative learning opportunities

· Level 1 and Level 2: Usual professional experience arrangements apply.

If your school has confirmed placements that are not in line with the above please:

1. Contact the initial teacher education provider directly to cancel the arrangement.

2. If your school is able to accommodate an additional final year or penultimate year placement in Term 4 please add your school’s details.

Penultimate year pre-service teachers are in their second last year of their course.

For example it could be a: Masters student in their 1st year of a 2 year post graduate course or a 3rd year teacher education student in a 4 year undergraduate course.

From 18 October all students on professional experience placements required to support the staged return to school (Level 3 plus) need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or hold a valid medical contraindication certificate. Further information is available at

If a pre-service teacher cannot get an approved vaccination for medical reasons, their doctor must complete a contraindication form. covid-19-vaccine-contraindication.pdf ( This form is then provided to the school principal or their delegate. Further details are available here.

COVID-19 advice: Flexible Professional Experience placements across Terms 3-4

NESA has approved initial teacher providers to vary the normal conduct of professional experience and establish in consultation with schools appropriate alternative arrangements for professional experience. These alternative arrangements should be based on what each school can support and should be guided by the following principles:

  • initial teacher providers should negotiate with schools and professional experience coordinators to develop localised arrangements for the placement of teacher education students to assist in the delivery of teaching and learning through online/remote teaching modes as well as alternative learning opportunities that provide additional personalised support to school students.
  • alternative learning opportunities may include supervised online tutoring of individuals or a small group of students using a co-teaching model with the classroom teacher, the creation of teaching materials/resources for schools and school students, or assistance with school-based assessment of students (this is not an exhaustive list).
  • the mix and balance of online/remote teaching and face-to-face teaching and alternative learning opportunities will vary across terms 3-4, and across schools this year. Such localised arrangements are always subject to schools being able to accommodate teacher education students and any form of professional experience.

NESA distributed a detailed statement in early August to assist schools and initial teacher education providers with planning flexible and adjusted professional experience placements. This statement was issued after consultation with the NSW Council of Deans of Education, NSW Department of Education, Association of Independent Schools and Catholic Schools NSW. NESA will continue to monitor the challenges faced by schools, initial teacher providers and teacher education students and review these guidelines as required.

During the lockdown period:

  • Schools should provide face to face learning delivery opportunities for pre-service teachers where possible and mixed delivery learning opportunities where face to face is not possible.
  • Supervised placements should proceed within the operating advice and other COVID-19 guidelines available to schools including Guidelines to support schools with using live video with students
    • If pre-service teachers require step by step guides on teaching with technology they can visit Technology 4 Learning
  • Schools work with their initial teacher education provider and pre-service teacher to ensure they have appropriate access to technology to conduct online learning for the duration of their placement.
  • Schools arrange for supervision of all online interactions between a pre-service teacher and students.

Resources to support flexible professional experience placements


Role of Pre-service Teachers

Examples of the range of activities

1. Know students and how they learn

PSTs demonstrate that they know their learners and can differentiate remote learning activities for individual students, including students with disabilities.

PST plans and implements inquiry-based units of work that includes a well-scaffolded extended investigation made up of a variety of activities to cater for the diverse range of learners.


The extended investigation will include a variety of activities, utilise a variety of technologies and pedagogies – delivered both asynchronously and synchronously.


PSTs adapt and differentiate independent and synchronous learning activities. The learning activities are differentiated to cater for the diverse range of learners, including students with disabilities.


PSTs develop strategies for engaging with individual learners to understand how they learn in the remote context.

2. Know the content and how to teach it

PSTs work with mentors to develop engaging activities. They demonstrate their understanding of the literacy and numeracy levels of their learners and adapt their online activities.

PSTs work with mentors to develop both asynchronous and synchronous learning using their knowledge of the student cohort and the curriculum.

PST plans and implements inquiry-based units of work that includes a well-scaffolded extended investigation that includes content organised into an effective and logical learning and teaching sequence to guide students in self-facilitating their own learning.


PSTs practice with multiple online and SMART technologies for teaching, learning and assessment


The PST appropriately integrating a range of ICTs, not only to deliver, but to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students.

3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

PSTs engage in planning for remote learning supported by lesson plans and the curriculum. They demonstrate the ability to choose effective pedagogies and resources to support student learning.

PST plans and implements appropriate lesson sequences made up of diverse activities and resources for remote learners in their cohort.

They work alongside mentors to set student learning goals and they reflect on student learning outcomes. They use lesson plans to scaffold this process. They work together to communicate with parents and carers.

PSTs transform units of work into inquiry-based units of work, that include an appropriate lesson sequence made up of diverse activities and resources.

4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments

PSTs work with mentors to engage students in the online learning environment.

PST develop a diverse range of strategies and activities to engage and empower students to self-facilitate their own learning


PSTs develop an extended investigation that includes a diverse range of strategies and activities to engage and empower students to

self-facilitate their own learning, work in large group settings and in small group settings.

PSTs establish supportive classrooms that identify and attend to the social and emotional needs of learners in online learning environments.

5. Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

PSTs engage in the cycle of teaching, including using assessment of, for and as learning as needed to plan for further learning.

PSTs work with mentor teachers to design and adapt assessment tasks for the remote learning context. They provide group and individual feedback to students.

PSTs work with mentor teachers to adapt assessment tasks into inquiry-based projects to be assessed.


The extended investigation will allow the PST to provide ongoing feedback to the student groups and each individual.

6. Engage in professional learning

PSTs reflect on their own skills and needs and seek professional learning with their mentor, placement school and wider forums.

Engaging in professional learning sessions to develop and enhance skills (eg. in remote learning, technology integration)


PSTs engage in staff PL sessions.

PSTs engage with wider forums to share and learn from other teachers developing online and remote learning strategies.

7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

PSTs work with supervising teachers to reflect on all aspects of the remote learning experience.

They engage with parents to support student learning.

PSTs meet online with supervising teachers to plan and reflect on student learning.

PSTs work with their supervising teachers to support parents who are facilitating home learning

AITSL's Spotlight identifies best practice evidence to guide teachers on setting up online learning and advice teachers can give to parents during this process.. It includes new resources and guides and ‘top 10’ best practice lists on how to deliver online education, with a focus on what students and parents should do to make the most of learning virtually

This resource includes four suggestions on how the professional experience coordinator (PEXC) can support quality online professional experience placements in 2021. 

An example of a local school induction presentation to support pre-service teachers entering a flexible placement 

1. This is a generic response that a supervising teacher can adjust, then copy and paste into an email to send to their pre-service teacher (PST) before online placement starts.

Use the strategies and resources suggested in here to set up quality online professional experience placements

2. This is an example of the organisation the supervisor and pre-service teacher (Matthew) used to manage an online professional experience placement in a primary school.. 

Best practice example of an online lesson plan with professional learning links for each lesson component. 

Best practice example to support the organisation of programming documents using One Note.  

Advice from a pre-service teacher after completing their flexible placement.  

The following 'Setting up for success' tips and tricks has been designed to support pre-service teachers to deliver quality online lessons. 

Final year pre-service teachers need to complete a Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) as part of their university requirements.

The TPA is a tool used to assess the practical skills and knowledge of pre-service teachers across the cycle of teaching and learning. Pre-service teachers collect evidence of practice to complete a TPA. The TPA is assessed by the university and is a requirement for graduation.

The responsibility of the supervising teacher is provide support about evidence collection and general guidance to the pre-service teacher. Final year pre-service teachers can be supported by their supervising teachers to implement planning, teaching and assessing across a learning sequence

If pre-service teachers are worried about their TPA their first place for help and advice is their university.

·       Universities have advised that Department that they are continuing to implement the TPA. In most circumstances it can continue with little, or no modification.

·       Minor modifications to methods can be made if required.

·       University staff will work with pre-service teachers to provide guidance where individual remote learning or online contexts do not seem to represent the opportunity to complete the assessment.

·       Universities can support pre-service teachers with suggestions for how they might consider data collection, planning, teaching and assessment in an online teaching environment, as well as what evidence might look like in this context. Although pre-service teachers are not experiencing the teaching mode they anticipated, there are opportunities for rich discussion and evaluation of practice in their TPA submissions.

·       Some TPA models have flexibility to use existing online scenarios. 

This ‘Evidence guide for supervising teachers to support flexible professional experience placements’ (Evidence Guide) has been adapted from and should be used with NESA’s ‘The Professional Experience Framework Document 4 Professional Experience – evidence guide for supervising teachers.

This Evidence Guide acknowledges the mix and balance of online/remote teaching and face-to-face teaching and alternative learning opportunities will vary across terms 3-4 and across schools this year.

Our classroom environments are providing flexible learning opportunities for all of our students. There is a mix of online/remote teaching, face-to-face teaching and alternative learning opportunities across schools this year.

To help prepare you for your placement we are offering a range of professional learning opportunities.

Setting up for success professional learning series.  

Session 1  video and presentation notes for organise classroom activities and managing student’s learning in an online learning environment  (chat available)

Session 2 video and presentation notes with practical approaches to managing challenging behaviours and engaging students in an online learning environment. (copy of chat and Q&A)

The following resources have been created by Hub schools. (schools that specialist in professional experience placements) These strategies have been proven to improve the quality of a professional experience placement for pre-service teachers. 

1. Annual open classroom list for preservice

2. Asking supervisors to volunteer

3. Dictionary of terms (coming soon)

4. End of week 1 survey

5. Shadow a class for the day

6. The open door to classrooms


Feedback from pre-service teachers after completing flexible placements.

I feel personally blessed to have been able to continue the internship with a school that was ready to dive into online learning. Whilst not everything was in place, the staff and learning teams were beyond helpful and encouraging for all aspects of mixed-mode teaching. I believe getting to experience mixed-mode has been more beneficial that purely one or the other in many aspects. I am personally grateful to have had such a friendly, professional and experienced team to assist me through it
I have enjoyed my PEx and learnt so much. It is also important to view online teaching as an opportunity rather than a challenge.
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