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HCPC statement on student supervision

This statement sets out our broad expectations regarding registration participation in the supervision of students from HCPC approved programmes.

This covers both our expectations for education providers, providing student placement supervision, and expectations for registrants offering supervision to others (including students).

Standards for education and training

It is a requirement of the standards for education and training that ‘practice-based learning must take place in an environment that is safe and supportive for learners and service users’ (standards for education and training 5.4). In our guidance on the standards for education and training, we state that this might include the level of supervision or autonomy that learners have.

There must also be an adequate number of appropriately qualified and experienced staff involved in practice-based learning (standards for education and training 5). This includes ‘practice educators’ who we define as a person who is responsible for a learner’s education during their practice-based learning. They must ‘have relevant knowledge, skills and experience to support safe and effective learning and, unless other arrangements are appropriate, must be on the relevant part of the Register’ (standards for education and training 5.6).

In our guidance on the standards for education and training, we recognise that there are different models of practice-based learning and the level of day to-day supervision or involvement of practice educators and other staff can vary among programmes. As a result, we do not say how many staff must be present at practice-based learning, how exactly they must be involved or what their qualification and experience levels must be. However, programmes must be able to justify what they consider to be a suitable number of staff for the number of learners and the level of support specific learners need.

Professional standards

The standards of conduct, performance and ethics and the standards of proficiency do not mandate that our registrants receive supervision or provide this to students. However, they do support the case that registrants should be doing so, where they have the appropriate skills:

  • You must work in partnership with colleagues, sharing your skills, knowledge and experience where appropriate, for the benefit of service users and carers. (Standard 2.5 of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics)

Our definition of 'colleagues', set out in the glossary of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics, includes students.

They also set clear expectations that if someone delegates work to someone else then they need to provide ‘appropriate supervision and support’ (standard of conduct performance and ethics 4.2).

As with any element of a registrant’s practice, a registrant should only offer supervision if it is within their scope of practice. Standard 3.1 of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics requires registrants to ‘keep within their scope of practice by only practising in the areas they have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience for’. This would mean we would expect a registrant to be suitably qualified to perform a supervisor role and have the required knowledge, skills and experience in the area of practice they are supervising.

The standards of proficiency also state that registrants must ‘understand the importance of participation in training, supervision and mentoring’ (standards of proficiency 4.7). At the time of writing, these standards are subject to a public consultation and so our position on supervision might be strengthened in these standards in the future.

Further guidance

We agree there are significant benefits arising from supervision in the workplace, and promote this wherever possible. Last year we published a blog post outlining the value of supervision and we will soon be taking forward work to develop an online guidance on supervision following independent research we commissioned.

We also recognise that what constitutes appropriate supervision will depend on a particular registrant’s role, scope of practice and work setting. Professional bodies often also have detailed expectations in this area, which we defer to.

Finally, our standards are threshold standards and therefore do not preclude employers from outlining additional requirements for their employees. Therefore, an employer might want to make it a requirement of registrants’ job descriptions that they supervise students. If so, we would expect registrants to be offered training and / or support to ensure this was part of their scope of practice.

Tudalen wedi'i diweddaru ymlaen: 29/10/2020