Student teachers due to start placements in Manchester secondary schools ‘scared about infecting pupils’

  • Tightening of restrictions on secondary schools means whole year groups are sent home due to infected pupils
  • PGCE students say they lack clarity on how they can stay protected in schools
  • Schools following protocol to stay within government guidelines

With the global death rate from Covid-19 now reaching more than one million, trainee student teachers are expressing anxiety about going into schools on placement.

They worry about bringing Covid-19 into school after traveling on public transport, and the wider dangers of contracting the virus in a busy school environment.

Manchester Metropolitan student teacher Hope said: “I listen to Boris’ updates on the radio, and the long-term effects of Covid-19 have frightened me more than the immediate two week illness period.

“I worry for how it has messed my degree up and have fears about bringing the virus into my student house.”

Protecting themselves and the students is proving to be a challenge for many.

Hope said: “I am training in art and with it being a tactile subject I don’t know how I am going to properly teach when I have to stay two metres away from the pupils.

“The theoretical side I am learning suggests that pupils learn best through collaboration, so I ask the government how my pupils are going to learn working independently in my classroom?”

North Cestrian High School in Altrincham is preparing for the University of Manchester student teachers at present.

Head teacher Lee Bergin has said placement students “follow the same rules as staff”.

Mr Bergin said he has had no confirmed cases of Covid-19.

“As per the science: hand washing, distancing where possible, enhanced cleaning, masks,” he said.

Student teacher Sari, who begins a teaching placement this month, is: “scared to infect the kids I’m teaching by bringing the virus into the school. I am commuting via various forms of public transport to get to my placement”.


​Regular hand washing is a necessity during Covid
​Regular hand washing is a necessity during covid


Student teachers claim they have received little guidance on securing a placement, but must complete a minimum of 120 days in their school to gain the teaching qualification.

Many are worred that because of Covid-19, there is a risk that contact hours will not be met.

Boris Johnson has put the onus on individuals to prevent the spread of the virus, and the student teachers are anxious to carry out safe teaching methods. 


Sari said: “I’m scared I’m not going to be a good teacher because of the lack of proper teaching experience.

“Teaching science, a lot of learning comes from practical experiments to conceptualise different theories. We are not even allowed to share equipment.”