Jan Spencer

I have been at York St John University as a Senior Lecturer in Education and ITE Partnership Manager since 2008. Prior to this I was deputy head teacher in an inner city primary school in Leeds and have more than twenty years teaching experience across both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

My subject specialism is music and I have previously run a number of music projects in schools and nurseries across Leeds.

My main areas of responsibility at the university are developing and maintaining partnerships with schools and other settings, delivering mentor training and ensuring all school experience documentation supports students and mentors and is current and quality assured. I work with colleagues to deliver mentor and link tutor training activities and conferences which ensure all those people involved in supporting students on school placement have the most up to date information and relevant skills and knowledge to ensure the best outcomes for our student teachers.

I am Director of the SOTS (Settings other than Schools) programme with responsibility for securing and quality assuring SOTS placements for all our undergraduate student teachers as an integral part of their second year of the programme. We currently work with in excess of fifty partner settings across Yorkshire and Humberside including stately homes, National Trust properties, outdoor centres, the RSPB and many others. I am currently working on securing a number of International SOTS placements in America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Further Information

Teaching

I work on both the first and second year undergraduate professional teams, teaching on the new undergraduate first year module ‘Childrens’ thematic learning’ and the undergraduate second year professional module. I also work with postgraduate students as a research tutor for their masters level research projects which they undertake as part of their professional development. As part of my role I provide input to all student teachers outlining the role of mentors and link tutors in supporting them on placement, and also outlining the professional expectations of their school experience.

As part of my role as SOTs director I inform student teachers about the value and importance of children learning from out of school experiences and LOTC ( Learning outside the Classroom) and have organised a number of professional development opportunities for both undergraduate and postgraduate student teachers including the following CPD: a day’s training on portraiture and sculpture funded and provided by the National Portrait Gallery which is held at Beningbrough Hall ( York) ;training on the value and organisation of school farm visits, funded and provided by FACE ( Farming and Countryside in Education) ; training on the safe use of the outdoors run by the Institute for Outdoor Learning; and a training project for postgraduate student teachers run by Learning through Landscapes.

Research

My current research interests are focussed on the benefits to student teachers on both their personal and professional development as an outcome of taking part in an international placement, and I am currently working with partner colleagues in America gathering qualitative information to inform my research.

I am also currently working with a colleague from the University and one within the Smithsonian Institute who is guest editor for a future edition of the ‘Journal for Museum Education’ and have been asked to submit an article for inclusion in this publication.

The Development of International Opportunities

I am currently working with a colleague developing a programme of International SOTS opportunities with museums in Washington and New York. These include the Smithsonian Institute, the International Spy Museum, the National Building Museum, and the Naval History museum in Washington, and the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York. Seven York St John student teachers spent a number of weeks working as part of the education teams with these settings over the summer of 2013, with very positive feedback from students and their mentors in the settings.

After an international visit over the summer we have secured a number of possible new partners to increase the number of placement options available to student teachers, including the Centre for Architecture, The Queens Botanical Gardens, and Queens County Farm in New York as well as an increase in the number of placements offered by our existing partners.

A further international visit planned for the Autumn may lead to placement opportunities in Australia.

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