UNIVERSITY of South Wales (USW) Primary Teaching students have been continuing with their placements during the coronavirus pandemic.

First-year students Gabby Wood from Newport and Georgie Rees from Caerphilly have been teaching in schools in Gwent since September.

Ms Wood , 20, has completed three placements at Overmonnow Primary School in Monmouth, working with Reception classes.

South Wales Argus: Gabby Wood

Gabby Wood

“I started my course at USW in September 2020 and after a couple of weeks of lectures, I went straight into my first placement in the October," she explained.

“Despite the Covid restrictions, the staff were glad to be back in the classroom and looking forward to the term ahead. But by the time I started the second placement in November, the guidance had changed dramatically and we didn’t really know what to expect.

“Then my third placement, at the end of January, was completely online as schools had once again closed. It wasn’t feasible for Reception age children to engage with live lessons, so I created pre-recorded videos and presentations, before setting them tasks to complete in their own time. There’s also a huge range of abilities in the class, so I also had to take that into account when planning.


“Despite the challenges of doing an online placement, it’s been really beneficial as I’ve been able to form a much stronger relationship with the class teacher (my mentor). We spoke almost every day and I no longer feel nervous about approaching her about anything I’m not quite sure of.

“I love the fact that our placements are at the same school for the academic year. We have the opportunity to see the children progress and really get to know them. I’m so pleased that my next placement will be back in the classroom.”

Ms Reese, 20, has completed placements at Abercarn Primary School, also working with Reception class.

South Wales Argus: Georgie Rees

Georgie Rees 

“It was daunting at first, starting my placement when the school had been through so much upheaval due to Covid, but I soon got used to it and the children have adapted so well," she said.

“My second placement, before Christmas, went really well as my confidence was starting to grow. Then when it came to my placement in January, the thought of doing lessons online with such young children was quite nerve-wracking. But I just threw myself into it and recorded some videos to help reassure the children.

“We use an app to communicate with parents, which was a real positive for me because I was able to interact with them more than I could before. I was pleasantly surprised by how much work I was getting back from the children – the vast majority have been really engaged in home learning.

“Even though we’ve had an unusual start to our studies, we’ve had such fantastic support from our lecturers and they’re there to help any time we need them.

“Online lesson planning has meant that we’ve had to adapt to what children have access to at home. But I feel this has helped broaden my skills and given me the tools to teach in a different way.”