Periods of time in the workplace are thus considered valuable for those undertaking education studies degrees. There are many reasons for this. First, education studies can be described as a ‘professionally-orientated’ or perhaps a ‘practice-orientated’ discipline or field that requires some form of first-hand ‘acquaintance’ (Winch 2010) with educational processes in educational contexts to develop a deep understanding of the nature of education itself (Hordern 2015). Some might argue, however, that this professional or practice orientation is not in keeping with the description of many education studies degrees as ‘academic studies in education’. While there can be some tension between the ‘academic’ and the ‘professional’, it is important to observe that there are other well-established professional disciplines such as medicine, engineering or architecture that could also be considered fully academic. While the study of education is perhaps more contested than these other professional disciplines, there is no real reason to suggest that the ‘professional’ and ‘academic’ cannot be reconciled within an education studies degree. Thus, better understanding the ‘practice’ of education through workplace experience (which may include research as much as gaining new knowledge and skills) seems to be an important component within such a degree. Second, a high percentage of students on education studies degrees are likely to be interested in employment in educational institutions and settings. Therefore, including workbased experience within the degree is helpful to give students a better understanding of educational processes and contexts. It is very difficult to get a place on a teacher education
programme without experience in a school or early years setting – placements and workbased experiences provide applicants for these programmes with important insights. On placement you are gaining awareness of multiple aspects of how workplaces operate, including:
how different teachers and practitioners work with children; supporting children in their learning; workplaces routines, practices and cultures; expectations of workplace behaviour; interaction with colleagues and parents; team-working; leadership and management; professional judgement; managing challenging tasks.