The nature of internship and interns
The internship is conceived as a professional learning bridge between the end of preservice professional preparation and the first year of teaching. It is an extended school-based placement in which interns are expected to consolidate their knowledge and experience across all facets of the role of the teacher in the school. It provides an opportunity to further develop skills in teaching and for interns to be mentored in preparing as thoroughly as possible for their early experiences of teaching.
In terms of the requirements of the NSW Institute of Teachers, all preservice teachers entering the internship have been assessed within the preceding supervised Professional Experience as achieving all the requirements listed under the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Professional Standards for Teachers: Graduate Teacher. As such the internship provides not only an opportunity for consolidation of these standards but also preparation towards standards appropriate for full accreditation at Professional Competence level in early teaching years.
Thus the internship is seen as a valuable opportunity for further professional learning guided by an experienced mentor teacher. To allow a strong focus on quality of preparation, reflection and deep evaluation, the expectation is that each intern will teach only 50–60 per cent of a full teaching load. This includes, under the guidance of the mentor teacher, responsibility for all aspects of teaching and student matters for collaborative teaching of one class and, in the case of secondary schools, a range of classes. A partial load allows interns to become involved in as many aspects of school life as possible, for example, some committee work, program and resource planning and development. In addition, MTeach and BEd (Primary Education) students complete a professional research project or an honours special study as part of the coursework.
Interns do not have to be supervised in the same way as appropriate to a preservice teacher within a previous professional experience component. Rather, they need to be supported in a mentoring relationship that has more of a co-teaching structure in terms of the shared teaching load and collaborative planning. Interns are deemed within the Internship Agreement to be capable of taking independent duty of care at the discretion of the principal. As such they may be left unsupervised to take responsibility for groups of students. It is expected that Principals and Mentor Teachers will assign duties and responsibilities to Interns at a level appropriate for an early career teacher.
Thus, under the conditions of the internship, the mentor teacher can be released for professional work for approximately 0.4 of teaching time at the discretion of the principal.
Before commencing an internship, all candidates will have completed the NSW Teachers’ Federation professional-development program dealing with child abuse, child sexual abuse and school grievance procedures as well as the Prohibited Persons declaration and the processes associated with the Consent to Employment Screening for the Working with Children Check.