Suitability of students for placement
To ensure that students comply with the HCPC Guidance on Conduct and Ethics for Students, the university undertakes that the student has been assessed as ‘fit to practice’ before they start on placement.
Middlesex University is required to assess the suitability of candidates for the social work course as part of the admissions procedure and to monitor that students comply with fitness to practice criteria for the duration of their training. We have in place procedures for assessing the suitability and fitness for professional practice of students prior to admission to the programme and throughout their studies. Students must be aware that when in university and whilst out on placement, they are subject to the suitability criteria. Students are also required to inform their tutor and the Programme Leader as soon as reasonably possible of any changes to their circumstances which may impact on their ongoing suitability for practice. This may include, but is not limited to: the acquisition of new cautions or convictions; involvement in investigations or disciplinary proceedings with the Police, Social Services, a Government department or an employer; any significant health related issues, bereavement or pregnancy.
All students are required to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check with the University (previously CRB check).
Full details of the Suitability and Fitness for Practice Procedures are in the Placement Handbook on pages 20-28.
Please see also the School of Health and Education’s policies related to Fitness for Practice: these are called the ‘Polices Relevant for Pre-qualifying Social Work Students’ (includes Fitness to Practice Policy and the Disciplinary Policy). Click here to download the ‘Fitness to Practice Policy and the Disciplinary Policy’.
Identifying and matching placements
Student placements are identified in line with the criteria recommended in TCSW Practice Learning Guidance-Placement Criteria:
- Students should normally have different experiences in their first and last placements. This is likely to mean different types of settings, service user groups, service user ages, and/or agency practice methods.
- Students should have experience of statutory interventions in their last placement. This is defined by the tasks undertaken on placement, and not necessarily by the setting (e.g. local authority) or type of placement (e.g. statutory).
Placements are arranged by the Practice Learning Manager who, in matching placements, takes into account the above criteria as well as the student’s learning needs, the practice learning opportunities available and the location of the placement. Where possible, students are matched to a placement close to their home, but students may be required to travel for up to 1.5 hours to a suitable placement.
Students must not make their own arrangements, approach individuals or contact agencies without prior discussion with the Practice Learning Manager.
Placements for Employment-Based Route students are arranged by their agency’s Placements Co-ordinator/Professional Development Lead.
Students are required to submit a Student Placement Application to the Placements Administrator by the agreed date.
The Student Placement Application is the first impression that a Practice Educator gets of a student so it is important that it is well written and gives sufficient information, backed up with specific examples.
Students with particular health or learning needs will be offered full support through the University support systems. Students may also wish to discuss any particular issues that they think will affect them on placement with their Tutor or the Practice Learning Manager.
Students are reminded that they are responsible for covering transport costs to and from placement.
Once a placement has been identified, students are invited to a pre-placement meeting at the agency. Students are expected to take their DBS check to the meeting and a copy of their previous placement final report (if applicable).
Timing of placements
Every effort is made to ensure that students start their placement in accordance with the University’s timetable, though this cannot be guaranteed. Students who have deferred or are required to resubmit academic work prior to progressing to the next year may have a delay to the start of their placement.
Students are not permitted to start placements early. They may agree a later start date in discussion with their Tutor or the Practice Learning Manager, generally at the request of the Practice Educator. As placements are closely linked to the parallel teaching that takes place, including submission of written assignments in which students draw on their practice learning on placement, students should be prepared to start placement at the agreed time.
Structure and attendance at placements
Students are expected to attend the practice placement on the stipulated number of days per week according to the published timetable. Students are also expected to attend placement for the required number of hours, in line with the normal agency day.
Students are entitled to take up to half an hour each placement day to reflect on their learning and practice. The arrangements for this reflection time must be negotiated with the Practice Educator/Work-based Supervisor and recorded in the learning agreement.
Students are required to complete the full 70 days (for first year students) or 100 days (for final year students) of their placement. If a student is absent from placement, these days must be made up.
It is the student’s responsibility to notify the practice educator/practice supervisor of any unexpected absences in line with the placement agency’s guidelines. Any planned absences such as planned medical appointments or dependency leave must be agreed by the Practice Educator/Practice Supervisor and the University Tutor. Any unexpected prolonged absence (more than 3 days) must be notified to the University.
All students on placement are required to complete an attendance register which provides formal confirmation of their completion of the requisite placement days. This must be signed by the Practice Educator/Practice Supervisor and included in the portfolio.
Students cannot withdraw unilaterally from a placement. If a student does withdraw from a placement, the placement will be deemed a fail and will require an investigation by the Practice Assessment Panel (PAP).
Support for students on placement
Every student has a Practice Educator who is a qualified and experienced social worker and holds a recognised award in practice teaching (for further details, see the PEPS standards). On some placements, the Practice Educator may be undertaking their Practice Educator qualifications and will be supported and assessed by a Practice Assessor who is a fully qualified and experienced Practice Educator
In some placements, there may be an ‘off-site’ or ‘long arm’ Practice Educator. In these circumstances, a Practice Supervisor will be responsible for allocating and managing the student’s day to day work, contributing to supervision and providing support to the student.
The Practice Educator (and Practice Supervisor if applicable) is responsible for providing access to learning opportunities for the student, as well as teaching, and assessing the student’s practice.
The student must receive a minimum of 1.5 hours supervision per week and agreed arrangements must be outlined in the Learning Agreement.
Every student has an academic Tutor who is the first point of contact for the University once the placement has started. Students receive support through attendance at Tutor Groups at the University and a 3 way (or 4 way if there is a Practice Supervisor) meeting is held at the start of the placement to finalise the Learning Agreement and again, at the midway point of the placement.
If any issues or concerns arise on placement, the student and practice educator and/or practice supervisor should attempt to discuss and resolve the issue within supervision. All such meetings must be noted and recorded. If the issue cannot be resolved, any party may contact the University Tutor for advice or to request a three or four way meeting.