The Scheme ran between 2002 and 2011 and was funded by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). It offered students in higher education the opportunity to explore teaching as a career by spending 15 days in an English secondary school. It also gave participants an opportunity to raise pupil aspirations in school and to help promote the merits of continuing into higher education.
Throughout the life of the Scheme placements were offered in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Modern Foreign Languages, Information and Communications Technology, Religious Education, Design and Technology, Music and Geography.
During the life of the scheme, we helped over 1500 students decide whether teaching was the career for them.
Students completed a short self-study package using our highly regarded distance learning materials, followed by a 15 day paid placement in a secondary school where they gained classroom experience working alongside teaching staff.
The study materials consisted of guided reading and a series of structured activities which were designed to help associates prepare for their placement. They covered key aspects of school life and the fundamentals of teaching. At the end of their placement students prepared a short portfolio which summarised their experiences in school, what they learned about teaching as a career and what contribution they had made to the school.
They experienced all the facets of life in a secondary school, often bringing with them their own experiences, special interests and talents to help raise pupil aspirations. They shadowed teachers and pupils, supported pupils individually or in small groups, prepared resources for teaching and planned, taught and evaluated part of a lesson or, in some cases a complete lesson. One of our associates, Emily, a design and technology student, worked with pupils at Lady Manners School in Derbyshire to create an animation as part of the school's curriculum enrichment day.
Many found it a really valuable and rewarding experience.
The first time I walked into a classroom that WAS scary! My heart was beating out of my chest! But when I'd taken that first lesson, I was proper buzzing - I couldn't wait to get back in and do more.
Laura, design graduate
The scheme has made me sure this is what I want to do. In fact, without it I'm sure it would have been much more difficult to take that next step.
Julian, geosciences graduate
Without the Student Associates Scheme I simply could not have done what I am doing. I wouldn't have had that experience to be accepted for a PGCE, but just as importantly the scheme gave me peace of mind - I'm no longer wondering if I'm doing the right thing. Thanks to the scheme, I know I am.
Matt, ICT graduate
Supporting the associate has given me the opportunity to develop my own personal mentoring skills
Supporting an associate has helped me to re-evaluate my own teaching
The support given by staff in schools to students was an essential element in the success of the scheme and we are grateful for the efforts made by all our subject mentors to enable our students to fully engage in school life. All mentors received a set of the Student Associate's study materials which could be made available to other staff for training and development purposes.
A clear, concise and informative self-directed unit for both student and mentor
Although the Student Associates Scheme has now closed due to withdrawal of funding, the Open University still offers a secondary PGCE in the following subjects: Design and Technology, Geography, Mathematics, Modern Foreign Languages (French, German, Spanish), Music and Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics).