Practice based learning (PrBL) essentials-ensuring placement governance

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AHP practice based learning quality standards

The Quality Standards for Practice Placements (QSPP 2008) were created to maximise the quality of the learning environment within the practice setting.  They clarified the expectations and responsibilities of learners and those individuals and organisations supporting them.  These standards were used by nursing, midwifery and AHPs.  Along with the standards an audit tool and an audit process was developed to enable the Allied Health Professions to audit themselves against the standards. 

The standards were reviewed and the new Quality Standards for Practice Learning (QSPL) have been available since February 2021.  The QSPL are being used by our nursing and midwifery colleagues as they have a digital audit system in place.  AHPs are still using the old standards (QSPP) for Sections 1 and 2 until a new digital audit tool is developed but should now use the newer QSPL standards for Sections 3, 4 and 5. 

Guidance documents and supporting resources can be found below.  

AHP Practice Based Learning Partnership Agreements

Since 2010, there have been AHP Practice-based Learning Partnership Agreements in place between each Scottish univeristy that runs pre-registration programmes and each NHS Board. Previously known as Practice Placement Agreements (PPA). 

The agreement is in three sections:

1. Stakeholder partnership statement;

2. Generic agreement for all organisations & professions;

3. Schedule appended to the agreement with specific additions for a profession & Practice-based Learning Weeks to be provided annually.

Benefits of the AHP Practice-based Learning Partnership Agreements

1. Key to enhancing the culture of student PrBL provision in Scotland

2. Support the development of the AHP workforce to be fit for practice to meet service user needs

3. Strengthen the governance arrangements related to PrBL provision

4. These improvements are consistent across the universities, professions, and Practice Education Providers

5. Clarify roles and responsibilities of Practice Education Providers and universities in relation to pre-registration student PrBL provision

6. Clarify an on-going commitment from each Practice Education Provider to provide a certain amount of PrBL provision per profession each year.

The agreement was refreshed in 2019 & is signed between NHS Boards & Edinburgh Napier University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Queen Margaret University, Robert Gordon University & University of Strathclyde.

PrBL Agreement Annual summary reports

Every year, each university will produce a summary of the practice-based learning that has been provided by each NHS Scotland Health Board over the previous academic year.

Example Practice-based Learning (PrBL) Partnership Agreements

Practice-based learning agreements held between higher education institutes and boards

Profession specific Practice Based Learning (PrBL) NHS Scotland Data analysis reports 2016/17-2018/19

The information within these documents presents the first NHS Scotland-wide summary of student PrBL provision between the years 2016/17 – 2018/19 for each profession. The information reports Practice-based Learning Weeks (PWs) which is a way of quantifying the amount of PrBL provision within an organisation. The National Services Scotland Information Services Division (ISD), and more recently NHS Education for Scotland, data about Allied Health Professions workforce numbers has been used to analyse the spread of student Practice-based Learning across NHS Scotland. The workforce data set remains the only published nationally available data source that is updated on a quarterly basis. Due to gaps in available data there are no reports for some professions and the Scottish Dietetic cluster hold all data regarding Dietetic PrBL

AHP student preplacement essential learning

As part of Scottish AHP students pre placement preparation, AHP students from all universities are expected to complete the following TURAS online learning prior to placement.  These modules can be found here and are currently only accessible to students and university lecturers.  AHP students are required to complete and pass these modules prior to commencing their placement.   The deadline for completion is determined by each university programme.

AHP students will complete the following modules:

  • Fire safety awareness
  • Basic Life support (BLS) - adult and child
  • Preventing hazards in the workplace Module 1: principles of health and safety 
  • Information Governance: Safe information handling 
  • Violence and Aggression de-escalation
  • Adult Support and Protection - Practice levels 1 and 2
  • Child Protection - Practice levels 1 and 2
  • Health Acquired Infection Scottish Infection Prevention and Control Education Pathway (SIPCEP) foundation layer
  • Equality & Diversity: Equality and human rights
  • Duty of candour.
  • Whistleblowing : an overview. Module 1 - Introduction to National Whistleblowing Standards, Module 2 - Whistleblowing and how it relates to other HR processes, Module 3 - Using the National Whistleblowing Standards

NB Within the Health Acquired Infection Scottish Infection Prevention and Control Education Pathway (SIPCEP) foundation layer there are 14 modules

Students will be advised by their university which of the modules they are required to complete and also if there is any additional learning they should undertake.  

Additional student training required by placement sites should be provided by placement sites and discussed with the students education provider.

Managing AHP PrBL cancellations

Guidance for managing risks to placement (practice-based learning) provision within Scotland has been developed as part of the NHS Education for Scotland (NES) AHP Practice Education Programme.

This guidance has been approved by the AHP Directors Scotland Group and promotes a consistent Scotland-wide approach to managing local risks of practice-based learning cancellations. Please contact the AHP Practice Education Lead (PEL) within a specific NHS Board if you have specific questions.

Student pre-placement orientation and induction

Please see below for guidance about content and support for student orientation and induction for practice-based learning (placement) experiences. 

 Agreed wording, by experts in reasonable adjustments, is presented below to enable practice education providers to be proactive in supporting students to share their needs both pre-placement & during induction: 

Generic statement for practice education providers : We encourage and support people to raise any issues or adjustments that they may require to safely practice and learn to their full potential. This helps us to support you in your learning during your practice-based learning experience. 

Pre-placement : Please let your practice educator know in advance of arriving for your practice-based learning if there are any adjustments required in terms of your health or learning requirements to help you participate to your full potential. 

Question during induction : Is there anything that you would like to tell us about your health or learning requirements? 


Example AHP learner induction check list

Terms of Reference AHP PrBL groups

A recommended national terms of reference for the AHP-wide networks and groups that support student practice-based learning/ placements in the practice setting is available below.  

These networks are essential to sustaining, modernising and quality assuring student practice-based learning across Scotland. 

Evaluating student placement experiences
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Section 1 of the QSPP and QSPL is concerned with the individual undertaking the practice based learning experience/placement.  Section 1 outlines what a student should expect from their practice based learning experience and what students undertaking the practice based learning experience have a responsibility to do.  In order to complete section 1 of the QSPP/QSPL audit practice based learning providers ( individuals, teams, services and organisations) should seek to evaluate student experience while undertaking their practice based learning experience or placement.

Student evaluation and feedback of practice based learning experiences / placements is essential in order to

  • Acknowledge and strengthen existing good practice;
  • Identify and troubleshoot aspects that could be improved;
  • Motivate and develop staff;
  • Enhance the relationship between the university and the organisation, teams and services;
  • Facilitate an improved learning environment and therefore ultimately improve students’ experience of the placement.

There are different ways to gather feedback from students including

  • online survey
  • focus groups
  • student stories

However you choose to gather student evaluation/feedback of their placement experience the following steps should be considered

Identify themes: areas for quality improvement, risk  and indicators of good practice

Take the opportunity to develop an action plan in collaboration with all stakeholders and team members.  This includes timescales and deliverables.

Share this action plan ensuring all team members are able to contribute

Demonstrate and communicate the impact of the action plan and the improvements made

Evaluate the impact of changes made



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Evaluating the impact of Scottish Government funding to support digital solutions in NMAHP PrBL/placement provision

In 2021 the Scottish Government provided £275k to support digital solutions in NMAHP placement provision.  Each NHS health board received a share of this funding and purchased the hardware and software required to support digital solutions for placements within their health board.   Further information on use and availability of this equipment can be sought from AHP practice education leads (PELs) in each board​.

In order to evaluate the impact of this funding on the provision of placement opportunities within health boards each practice educator and each student utilising the funded equipment or software completed an evaluation. Plese find the evaluation report below


Projects, new developments and tests of change
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As AHP Practice-based learning (PrBL) in Scotland continues to develop and grow AHPs seek to maintain, develop, improve and progress systems and processes that support all those involved in the planning and delivery. Below are pieces of work, projects and tests of change that have been undertaken as stakeholders strive to ensure availability of PrBL across Scotland supporting the future work force in their development. 

Evaluation of coordinated placement offer requests and returns May 2024 - OT, Physio and SLT