By April Duncan
I am a fourth year Primary Education student, and my last ever placement experience was cut short due to COVID-19.
On Monday the 16th of March, everything was uncertain as to what would happen in our final two weeks in schools as corona fears swiftly became the talk of the world. With two weeks of placement remaining, and my upcoming assessment determining if I pass or fail on the horizon, everything seemed to be business as usual for us student teachers, despite word of other university courses stopping face-to-face teaching. However, after school that day at 5pm, after all of the students and teachers had left the school vacant for the evening, with no official advanced warning a statement was released from the General Teaching Council Scotland stating that all of the students currently on placement were to terminate with immediate effect, and that we were not permitted to return to our schools under any circumstance.
At this point, myself and my course-mates were filled with emotions; shock, sadness, confusion… with so many questions buzzing through our heads. Would we be able to pass our final placements? Would we have to sit our assessments at a later date in the year? How would our teachers feel that we were leaving them to pick up where we left off with no warning, despite us having planned full responsibility for the class for the remaining weeks? And of course, which very quickly followed was the horrible realisation that we could no longer say goodbye to both the staff and children who had helped and supported us to thrive and progress over the past 10 weeks. When the children within my class had exited the school that day and I wished them all a pleasant evening, and when I too left stepped foot out of those school gates, we were all none-the-wiser that I would in fact not be returning again the next morning. If this experience has taught me anything, it is that you never really know when the last time is the last time.
Everything that we had worked towards as students felt as if it had been ripped away from us within moments. On a positive note, a solution for our assessments was created and our class teachers wrote up reports to determine our results. However, fourth year placements can often be seen as our finish lines – the place that we strive to reach for so long; the moment at the end of it all when we can finally say ‘we made it.’ In this case, our build up to this was cut shorter than we expected, and although two weeks may not seem like very long, those final days can be vital in terms of giving us that last boost in confidence before we fully plunge into the beginning of our official teaching careers.
And although I can still say I’ve made it, something won’t ever seem right about how I didn’t get to say those final and grateful goodbyes to everyone who played such an important part of my journey.
You can follow April on Instagram at @apriildxo.