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Exceptional extenuating circumstances policy

Last Updated: 28th October 2020


This policy apples to trainees on the Scientist Training Programme (STP) and Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST). It applies to direct entry and in service trainees across all funding routes e.g., HEE, private provider or employer and is available to trainees in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This policy explains how to apply for additional time to complete your training if exceptional extenuating circumstances arise during your training. It does not apply to your academic programme so you must follow the relevant University processes to apply for an extension with them. Also it does not cover the final exit examinations for either programmes. Processes for these activities are detailed separately for each programme.

Any decisions made will be agreed with the relevant education providers (employer and university where appropriate) and the organisations commissioning or contributing financially to the programme.

The principles

This policy is built around the following principles:

  1. All trainees on the STP and HSST are required to complete a variety of activities both within their work place and with a university within an agreed timescale in accordance with their relevant curriculum and assessment strategy for their training. Trainees must evidence that they have achieved the required standards for these activities in order to receive a certificate of completion from the National School of Healthcare Science (the School).
  2. In the event of a significant incident or set of circumstances, usually not of the trainee’s own making, which results in them not being able to complete all of the required activities, there is a process for the School to recommend and approve changes with the aim of supporting the trainee to achieve a positive outcome in their training.
  3. All recommendations for changes to the training as defined in this policy are subject to agreement with both the host employer and the local commissioner funding the training. Occasionally this may also require agreement with the university depending on the circumstances.
  4. No trainee should gain an unfair advantage over other trainees through the exceptional extenuating circumstance process.
  5. This policy ensures that the standards of the School awards are safeguarded, for the benefit of current and prospective trainees and employers and service users/patients.

Extensions of training

Where circumstances beyond the trainee’s control impact negatively on their ability to complete their training, trainees may apply for an extension of time. If approved, the School will normally recommend additional time to complete the required activities of the programme without penalty.

Extensions may apply in one or more of the following circumstances:

  • Where exceptional extenuating circumstances prevent a trainee from completing all of the required training activities including recording them on the e-portfolio.
  • Where exceptional extenuating circumstances can be shown to have affected a trainee’s performance in activities already undertaken within the training.

Applications for extension will not normally be approved if they arise from matters within the trainee’s control, such as:

  • Failure of a trainee to organise their time appropriately
  • Trainee’s own negligence or carelessness
  • Circumstances for which trainees have had ample opportunity to plan
  • Circumstances which were not disclosed at the appropriate time (unless the trainee was unable to do so due to circumstance e.g. impaired mental capacity)
  • Any failure of computer-related equipment

Circumstances that are most likely to be considered are outlined in appendix 1.

If the application is unsuccessful, the activities already submitted and completed will be treated as the final submission, and trainees will then be subject to the consequences that ordinarily apply to incomplete submission.

Applications can normally be submitted at any point in the final year but not any later than one month before the agreed completion date. In exceptional cases a claim may be accepted later or earlier, provided there is a clear reason why e.g., a recent and unforeseen event. New applications received after the published completion deadline will not be considered. In all cases it is the trainee’s responsibility to submit the form by the specified deadline.

Trainees should refer to the School’s STP Requirements for Completion policy for details of completion timescales or to the HSST completion requirements.

If the application is successful, the School will advise of the new deadline for completion. The panel may recommend extension normally up to a maximum of 3 months, with longer periods only in cases of prolonged sickness or other unavoidable absence. Trainees may then complete the remaining activities at any time during the extension period.

An extension of time may not automatically attract additional funding and will be dependent on individual circumstances.