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Professional Experience -  Frequently Asked Questions for Students

Before you ask us any questions, make sure you have checked the School of Education website, and your Unit Learning Guide.

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What must I do/complete before I go on prac?

We will need to complete a placement form (for each unit - done online via SONIA),  submit current copies of your mandatory checks (Working With Children Check and National Police History Check) and complete a pre service teacher agreement form (once only - done online via SONIA).  You will also need to complete a name badge form as you are required to wear a name badge during your school experience (apply at Student Centre). The Working With Children Check clearance form can be obtained from the Professional Experience office or your local Post Office.

**NOTE: First year education students (both undergrad B.Ed and postgrad M.Teach / Grad Dip Sec / Grad Cert ECE) - you will need to email your WWCC clearance to ProfessionalExperience@murdoch.edu.au OR present hard copies of clearances to the Student Centre (Bush Court) OR Education Reception (Education & Humanities building). When both WWCC and NPHC clearances have been received, your enrolment status into first year professional experience units will change from INVALID to ENROLLED. If students have applied for, but not received their card prior to the commencment of their first school experience, they should email a scan or image of the WWCC RECEIPT (from the Post Office) to Professional Experience.

What if I am under 18 years of age?

You can apply for both clearances (Working with Children Check, and National Police History Check) 3 months before you turn 18.

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What are my mandatory checks?

The checks that are required to allow you to go on Professional Experience prac are:

These forms are not just something we have put into place here at the University - it is the LAW to have a WWCC and NPHC so please make sure you have handed them in prior to being placed on your professional experience. Without them you are unable to attend your professional experience.

  • The Working With Children Check form be found either at the Professional Experience Office (Level 2 of the Education & Humanities Building) or at your local Post Office. Before lodging this form at the Post Office, you will need to have some sections of the form completed by the Professional Experience Office.
  • The Pre Service Teacher Agreement form is located on the online SONIA Student Placement System.
  • The National Police History Check form can be located and completed online at the Department of Education website (click here). PLEASE NOTE IT IS A NATIONAL POLICE HISTORY CHECK THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - NOT A NATIONAL POLICE CERTIFICATE.

NOTE: The NPHC is valid for the duration of your studies unless you have a break of 6 months or more from your studies. If this is the case, you will need to re-apply for a NPHC.

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How long does it take to complete these clearances?

The WWCC will take approximately around 2 to 4 weeks. The NPHC can take from 2 to 6 weeks so it is very important that you send off for this as soon as is possible to get it back in time for your placement. You will not be able to attend your professional experience without these checks. It is a good idea to give us a copy of the receipts for these checks in the interim while you wait for the clearance to arrive.

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Do I need a name badge and how do I get one? How long does it take?

Yes, name badges are mandatory for going out on prac as they identify you with the university. Forms for name badges can be picked up at the Professional Experience Office or on the Professional Experience website. Once the form is filled out it will need to be taken to Student Centre to be paid for and submitted in order for it to be processed and ordered. You should get your badge ordered a good while before your prac to ensure you receive it in time. Giving it at least two weeks is ideal. The Student Centre will email you when they have received your badge so you can come and collect it, or post it out to you if you have paid for postage.

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What is SONIA?

Sonia is the online Student Placement Management System and will be vital to you as an Education student. When your placements for a unit are complete they will be uploaded onto Sonia for you to see. This is also where you will be able to see other details such as the year level and subject you will be teaching, your School Experience Coordinator and Moderator contact details and any other information you need to know. If you are looking for any information on your professional experience, please check Sonia - which can be found easily by searching Sonia in the searchbar of the Murdoch University website.

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I haven't heard anything from the Professional Experience Office about my placement

It is most likely that all the necessary information on your placements can be found on the Professional Experience Website or on SONIA.

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I have handed in my WWCC, NPHC and my Agreement form and it still says I have outstanding checks on Sonia

This could be because one or more of these checks has expired. Both your Working With Children Check and your National Police History Check are only valid for three years, and you must then apply for another. It may also be that they have not been entered in the system yet - though this will usually be done within two - three days of receiving your form.

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Do I have to do a First Aid Course before I go on my prac?

No, you will just need to hand in the necessary forms and clearances.

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Do I have to do a placement form for every unit I do?

Yes, you do. We must receive a placement form otherwise you will not be placed.

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I have already handed in my clearances; do I have to submit a copy for every placement?

No, you will not. Please check Sonia and see if we have copies of your checks which are valid. If we have, you will not need to send in another copy. The only form we will need for every professional experience will be your placement form.

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I can't see my unit on SONIA

This may sound silly but please make sure you are enrolled in your unit! And make sure you have submitted your placement form. Usually this will be the case if we have not received a placement form from you. If you have already handed in a placement form we may have simply not entered this into the system yet so please be patient.

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I can see my placement on SONIA, but I do not know any details (such as year, subject etc)

It is most likely that the reason you do not know these details is because we do not know either. We rely on the schools to give us this information and sometimes for one reason or another they are unable to tell us straight away. In this case it is best to just be patient.

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My address/contact details have changed, how do I let the Professional Experience Office know?

It is your responsibility to change your details on Callista (MyInfo) which will automatically update Sonia. You are also placed by what information is put on your placement form so please fill out the form with the address you will be at in the duration of the prac.

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I can see what school I have been placed at in Sonia, but there is no Moderator listed

Our first priority is to place you, so it is likely information on the school you have been placed at will be available before your moderator contact details. Our advice would be to be patient.

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Is it ok to contact my moderator?

Absolutely, but please only contact your moderator by email, and please wait until after the placement meeting. After this we absolutely recommend touching base with your moderator before your prac to introduce yourself.

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Can I request a school/request a change in the school I am placed at?

One of the most common problems we encounter after placing students in schools is that students don’t have a car and cannot get to their school - please remember that we are not mind readers and if you don’t tell us that you don’t have a car we are not going to know! This is also the case with the child care centre the student uses being too far away from their school. Please write any necessary information in regards to transportation or other matters that will affect you getting to your school on the placement form so we are aware, and can try to help you out accordingly. We strive to place every student at a school as close to the address on their placement form as we can, but sometimes this isn’t possible.

We also cannot emphasise enough the fact that in enrolling in your unit means you have the responsibility to be available in the timeframe of your practical placement and that things such as lack of transportation or child care will not qualify you for a variation, nor a change of school.

While we understand the added difficulty these factors cause, you have enrolled and thus have agreed that you will be available for your pracs.

For some pracs you will be able to request a school, however you must understand this does not mean you will be guaranteed a place there. Some schools have an agreement with another University and thus we are unable to place you in there (please see the Professional Experience website for our partnership schools).

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I have been placed too far away from my residential address

Whenever possible we will place you as close as we can to where you live, but unfortunately this cannot always be done. It is deemed acceptable to travel up to one hour to get to your school. Please keep in mind when you are a qualified teacher it is highly unlikely you will be accepted in a job right around the corner from where you live.

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What schools will I be ineligible for?

Any school where you have a personal or professional relationship with a staff member. It is also not appropriate to go to the school your children attend. Some schools are inapproachable for us as they have agreements with other Universities, and thus we are unable to place you there. Our partnership schools can be found on the Professional Experience website.

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Am I able to organise my own placement with a school?

Please do NOT 'cold call' schools to see if they will take you. As a metro student you will be placed by Professional Experience Office and it is not appropriate for you to contact schools.

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What do I do if I'm sick on my professional experience?

A medical certificate will need to be provided to both the School and to the Professional Experience Office, and the relevant school contacts (mentor teacher, school coordinator and moderator) should be contacted and advised also. It is most likely these missed days will need to be caught up on at a later date.

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When will my unit results be available?

Results are usually available at the end of each semester, after the Board of Examiner's meeting. This can also depend on the Unit Coordinator.

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I didn't get a copy of my report, can you photocopy and send it to me?

Please always keep a copy of your reports for your own record. It is your responsibility to keep a copy of all your final reports.

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Where do I send my school experience reports?

The student self-assessment reports should be uploaded onto SONIA.


Schools can post, fax or email their reports to the Professional Experience Office as listed below:

Professional Experience Office
School of Education
Murdoch University
90 South Street
Murdoch 6150
Fax: 9360 7545
Email: ProfessionalExperience@murdoch.edu.au

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We only deal with school experience here. Please don’t ask us about queries not to do with your placement or non-School of Education questions as we won’t be able to answer! Thank you!