Student concerns being heard at MGSE
Tessa Gould, 2019 GSA Women’s Officer
Thursday 3 October 2019
Problems with placements
I’m Tessa Gould, GSA’s Women’s Officer and a Master of Teaching (Secondary) student.
In August, some of my fellow MTeach students raised concerns in our cohort Facebook group about placement allocations.
The biggest issues raised were:
- students being placed late
- commutes of over ninety minutes to placements, and
- the communication about placements to students.
While I personally had no issues with my placements, it was clear that there was a lot of discontent among our cohort and I wanted to see what could be done to change things for the better.
Making placements better: our approach
I arranged a meeting between some of the students who had expressed concerns and members of GSA’s Representation team, where we discussed the best way to approach these issues. We decided the best method would be to write an open letter to the Dean of our faculty, Professor Jim Watterston, requesting a meeting.
A draft of the letter was prepared by my MTeach colleague Matt Blake and shared with our cohort on Facebook. We received a lot of support and great feedback, and the final letter we sent to the Dean was signed by 60 students.
Professor Watterston responded very positively to our letter, and happily met with me and Matt. He thanked us for bringing these concerns to his attention and outlined some solutions. I was impressed by the leadership Professor Watterston showed by taking responsibility for these issues and his commitment to improving the experiences of students.
In response to our concerns, MGSE is conducting a review of their placements policy, and will be implementing new measures to make sure placements are arranged on time and within reasonable travel times.
They are also addressing communications around placements, so we can be better informed of their status. Professor Watterston has offered to meet us again towards the end of the semester, and we’re looking forward to an update on the progress of these initiatives.
Overall this was an empowering and positive experience. I encourage any students to discuss issues with your course among your cohort and work together to find solutions.
The Representation team at GSA are happy to help advise you in situations like these; and, like us, you may find that faculty staff are grateful to be informed of the issues students are facing, and may be highly responsive to your concerns.