Student placement process


The Student Teacher Placement process is a national placement programme that includes a system that enables the automatic matching of student teachers to school placement offers throughout Scotland.

GTC Scotland operates and maintains the Student Placement System on behalf of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), local authorities and schools. The system is funded by HEIs and Local Government and has been contracted to GTC Scotland to manage since 2013.

The current system is now reaching the end of life. Originally intended to be replaced after six years, technical support for the current system will be withdrawn in June 2024 due to the age of the system and its ability to adapt to changing requirements. The recently published Measuring Quality in Initial Teacher Education Final Report (Kennedy, Carver & Adams, 2023), references how the current system can be a source of frustration and the way in which the system allocates placements, without being able to fully recognise and accommodate variability of programmes, being problematic.

We have been considering the suitability of us hosting the Student Placement System as we also have a statutory accreditation responsibility for Initial Teacher Education.

Developing our new strategic plan, Trusted Teaching, has given us the opportunity to review our work and we believe that we need to focus our resources on expertly delivering our core functions of registration and regulation over the next five years. The Register of Teachers now contains almost 82,000 individuals and it is important that we focus on working with the profession to maintain high standards and enhance trust in teaching.

We have therefore shared our intent with the Student Placement Management Group to withdraw from administering the Student Placement System from June 2024 in line with the current system’s end of life. In discussion with our SPMG partners and our system supplier, we have confirmed that until the end of June 2024, we will assist in preparation for what is likely to be an interim year of arrangements in 24/25.

We will work with partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new system operators and we hope that we will be also able to use our experiences from the last ten years of operating the system to suggest improvements for the next phase of the Student Teacher Placement process.

How does the system match students to school offers?

In the first instance, the system will try to automatically match student teachers to placements.

This depends on:

  • the number of students that the HEI identifies as requiring placements, and the placements required (primary, secondary (subject))
  • the number of offers received from schools that match these requirements

There is a range of competing factors for this including location, travel to the school placement and staffing within schools.

In placing students using the automated processes, the system takes account of the following factors:

  • nature of the placement patterns required by each HEI programme
  • maximum travel time (agreed by HEIs, local authorities and schools as 90 minutes from a student’s address)
  • students’ denominational status
  • if the student teacher is fluent in Gaelic and wishes to teach in the Gaelic medium
  • if the student teacher is from an island local authority and wishes to return 
  • if the student has been sponsored by a local authority
  • subject or stage for placement in a nursery, primary or secondary school department
  • offers made by schools “opting into” the process that meet these requirements
  • students with exceptional circumstances (students with disabilities, exceptional childcare arrangements and caring responsibilities)

For information on how you will inform GTC Scotland of these factors, visit the applying for Provisional Registration section.

How does this impact you as a student?

If you have any questions about student placements, please contact your HEI placement coordinator.

How am I matched to a placement?

Student teachers will be automatically matched to a school placement based on the information provided by the HEIs and schools. A sequence of actions is undertaken by the HEIs, local authorities and schools before a placement is deemed to be fully confirmed and ready for a student teacher to attend. HEIs will inform a student teacher of their placement once the match has been confirmed by the school.

Where will my placement be?

There is a national agreement that student teachers should not normally be required to travel more than 90 minutes each way to their school placement from their stated term-time address (a term-time address is where you will be living during the academic year while you are studying on your course).

If you have chosen to attend an HEI which necessitates a longer daily commute (more than 90 minutes) the HEI will strive for a journey to a school placement that does not exceed your chosen commute to campus. This is not guaranteed.

Can I arrange my own placement?

All school placements are arranged via the national system. Student teachers are strictly prohibited from seeking placements independently and such activity, on the part of student teachers, may trigger an HEI’s disciplinary process.

Roles and responsibilities of the HEI, local authority and school

In order to ensure that the wide range of needs of the various Initial Teacher Education (ITE) establishments are met, a Student Placement Management Group (SPMG) was established to oversee the management of the system. SPMG has agreed protocols to ensure that all partners in the process are aware of their role and responsibilities. These are:

  • HEIs work with their partnership local authorities to secure sufficient student placements in their partnership schools
  • schools ensure that all school offer information is showing on SPS prior to matching
  • HEIs input course and student data to SPS to allow matching to commence
  • HEIs, local authorities and schools then confirm student placement matches through SPS
  • HEIs and local authorities have an opportunity to reject placements and engage in manual matching

In addition, a Student Placement User Group with membership from all parties considers the practical and technical issues relating to student placements and reports to SPMG.

When will I get my GTC Scotland registration number?

Once you have completed your programme, your Higher Education Institute will supply GTC Scotland with a list of all students who have passed. After processing this list, you will be asked to pay the annual registration fee and then your GTC registration number will be issued to you.

Please note, the local authority employers are aware of this process; you may have been asked by your LA for this prior to starting your Teacher Induction Scheme in August, but as your LA recognises you are a student moving into your probation, this won't be required.

We cannot ask for payment or issue your number until this process has been completed.