Statement published on 27th March 2020

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the National School of Healthcare Science have been reviewing guidance from, and working with, regulators to help universities manage programmes during this academic year. We understand that universities are having to implement changes and introduce procedures to adjust teaching, learning and assessment as a result of closures to universities, difficulties in accessing work placements for students and to comply with Government public health guidance. Our prime concern is the health and wellbeing of students and staff. During these extraordinary circumstances we still need to be satisfied that students achieve the required learning outcomes.

We wish to reassure universities that provided necessary changes are implemented in accordance with university regulations and policy for academic teaching and assessment, this will not affect School accreditation of their programmes. It is for the university to provide mechanisms within their regulations to reassure the university that students can demonstrate the required learning outcomes.
Changes to programmes will be temporary and reflect public health advice to help contain the virus. At this stage, we do not require you to submit any changes that are necessary to take but we expect that you will record changes for your own quality assurance processes. Our intention is to ensure that requirements for accreditation are not a barrier to allowing students to progress and graduate to be eligible for professional statutory or voluntary registration and employment.

FAQs for PTP providers

What about work placements and completion of the PTP Training Portfolio?

Employers may be faced with staff absences or increased workloads and students on placements may be either having to self-isolate or being withdrawn by placements due to the Coronavirus situation. It is allowable to consider a reduction in the year 3 placement and a delay of the placement period for years 1 and 2.  

Year 3 trainees could be helpful to departments but, if the question is that the department is concerned for their safety, we would have to be guided by the employer. Alternative assessment methods should be implemented to allow students to demonstrate required learning outcomes. 

Where year 1 and 2 placements do not to go ahead, learning outcomes should be achieved in different ways. However, we would prefer year 2 placements to proceed if possible. When the current situation relaxes and work placements are availablestudents should be able to continue with regular work place assessments. 

What if it is difficult for students to complete their work-based projects?

Normally the project should be based on data-generation and evaluation, and not solely a literature review. Due to the current exceptional circumstances, alternatives may be used including different assessment methods, accepting truncated research and briefer write-ups for research projects. 

What if we have to change assessment and exam methods?

To enable students to achieve the learning outcomes may mean the introduction of alternative assessment methods; for example, the introduction of simulation, actors and OSCEsVIVAs, the increased use of case studies and online practical/clinical demonstrationsThe implementation of alternative teaching and assessment methods will ensure learning outcomes are achieved, and it is accepted that real patient contact is unlikely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What happens if clinical staff are unable to deliver training or sign off competencies due to illness, self-isolation and /or commitments to clinical service?

The introduction of short-term alternative assessment methods by universities and employers should ensure that students will have sign off for their competencies and assessments. The School will support universities taking a pragmatic view of the introduction of alternative assessment methods to ensure that students are not disadvantaged.

Will COVID-19 stop PTP students from graduating?

Final year students are likely to be very concerned about their ability to graduate. COVID-19 may impact on students’ ability to sit exams and complete portfolios. The School is working with universities and taking a pragmatic view on the introduction of alternative assessment methods and placement provision to ensure that this unprecedented situation does not affect students graduating.

Further information and guidance will be provided to trainees by the School via our website so please continue to visit this page on a regular basis for updates.