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Practice based learning

The Stepping Stones Programme

Supervising Trainees within Education Placements


Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT) have proactively responded to the revised NMC Standards for student Supervision and Assessment (May 2018). They have developed a new framework for student learner support within the organisation to increase capacity and enhance quality within the practice learning environment. The focus for extending capacity is predominantly for first year student nurses, as this is where placement demand is currently the highest.

Overall project objectives include:

1. Stepping Stones extends the NMC Assessment and Supervision roles to include a three-tier placement support framework:

  • Practice Assessor (NMC Registrant);
  • Principle Practice Supervisor (Registrant on a Professional Register); and
  • Practice Supervision Support (Bands 3-5 including newly qualified nurses and Nursing Associates).

2. The programme enables Bands 3-5 (newly qualified and staff who do not possess a recognised teaching and assessing qualification) to develop their skills. It will enable them to effectively support the student learning experience, in a recognised capacity, to become a Practice Supervision Support. This will complement the registrant’s role as Principle Practice Supervisor.

3. By formally recognising and including this large staff group (Bands 3-5) within our infrastructure it will afford BDCFT an opportunity to review an increase in capacity across our nursing services. To meet NMC requirements long-arm supervision of all Practice Supervision Support staff will be provided by the Principle Practice Supervisor who will be a registrant.

4. By completing this programme it will also serve as a pipeline of newly qualified staff who are better prepared for application to a formal Teaching and Assessing qualification (such as SLiP or equivalent).


Staff are invited to express an interest in the programme and to have line manager support. A half day workshop and accompanying workbook cover key areas, including:

  • preparing for the arrival of a student;
  • how people learn/learning styles/learning theory;
  • the role of supervision in the practice learning environment;
  • how to develop a lesson plan;
  • how to recognise and manage a student who is failing to progress; and
  • Practice Assessment Documentation.

On completion of the workshop, staff are assigned to an experienced Principle Practice Supervisor to observe them on a minimum of three occasions supporting the supervision of a pre-registration nursing student. If they have demonstrated and met six mandatory criteria in their knowledge and approach to student support they are then formally recognised in the Practice Supervision Support role and will be added to the Trust student support register.

Learning and future work:

This programme will be piloted in the Trust in September 2019 with a cohort of 40 staff across bands 3-5 (newly qualified). This will be in line with the 2019/20 cohort of first year students due out into their first clinical placements from November. As part of this initial pilot the BDCFT Nursing Development Team would welcome other interested trusts to pilot this programme alongside our local implementation. This would feed into a wider evaluation of its impact in terms of capacity, staff development and quality enhancement of the learning environment and student experience. Moving forwards, this workshop approach will also be considered for use in preparing other professions in supporting Practice Supervisors for the future nurse curriculum.

The photo above show Bradford District Care Trust Nursing Development Team. From left to right: Adele Humphrey (Practice Education Lead), Debbie Cromack (Nursing Development Team manager), Helena Lee (Practice Education Lead).

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For more information contact:

Debbie Cromack
Quality, Health and Innovation Lead (Nursing Development Team)
Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust