6 Steps to Getting Ahead in your Placement

Most of our CACHE Qualifications require you to be working in a school, college or early years setting, either in a paid or voluntary position.

Here are some tips that you can take into your placement to help you really get the most out of it.

Develop positive relationships

You’ll learn so much from the people around you and having positive relationships with your colleagues and the learners will really make all the difference. Be respectful, polite, and take a genuine interest in their opinions and ideas. The more you can be involved the better, but make sure you’re always respectful of people’s busy timetables.


Go above and beyond

It’s likely that you have a set of responsibilities in your classroom, but don’t be afraid to offer to do more, if your role allows you to. The more you do, the more experiences you have, the more you will learn and the more beneficial your placement will be. This may not necessarily be taking on a task yourself, but maybe asking to support or observe another – such as creating displays. If, as a volunteer, a large part of your is listening to readers, ask if you can be more involved in class activities. Sometimes you need to be proactive to ensure you’re getting the range of experiences you need.


Ask questions!

The more questions you ask, the better equipped you are to support the children. Questions could relate to expectations of you, activity planning, learner targets and progress, school policies and procedures – anything you’re unsure of. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. It’s also a great way to demonstrate a high level of engagement with the school and in the classroom, and will make you a more valuable practitioner.


Get feedback

Whether you’re employed or a volunteer, it’s really important to get feedback on your performance and discuss how you can develop. This doesn’t need to be a formal process – just make sure you ask the question. It could be activity specific, or more general such as about subject knowledge you develop. By asking others we may find areas of strength of areas of development we didn’t know we had.


Try different things

It’s really beneficial to have as many different experiences as you can when you’re in your placement. If you don’t do break duties for instance – perhaps this isn’t part of your job role – go out on the playground anyway. If you don’t run an ECA but want to see how this is done, ask if you can observe. If you haven’t attended a trip before ask if you can go along. These different situations can all reveal a totally different aspect for the job, and you’ll really develop your understanding.

Furthermore, it’s a great idea to get experience in different year groups. If you volunteer or work part time, ask if there’s a possibility for you to visit different classrooms and year groups, to see how things are different and how they’re the same. If you work full time, see you can visit the classrooms after school or chat with the teachers at lunchtime – it’s really useful to understand how each year group works with the others.


Keep a pen handy!

You never know when you’ll come across something useful or inspiring, or something great, or not so great, happens that you’ll be able to use as part of your coursework. This could be a phrase the teacher says, a new concept or activity idea, when a learner has a breakthrough, or if you’ve had an idea for how to improve something. These are really useful and it’s important that you make a note of them to remember them later on.


Looking to become a Teaching Assistant or Early Years Practitioner? Already working in a school or nursery and wondering what your next steps are?

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