Reflections of the Thames Valley Learning Environment Leads Good Practice Event

Tuesday 22 November 2022 saw the Thames Valley Learning Environment Leads (LEL) Good Practice Event take place. This blog acts as a reflection of that occasion.

Invited by Gillian Baker, Health Education England’s (HEE) Thames Valley Quality Lead in Practice Learning, Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) Students Amber Wait, Ellie Johnson and Gabby Nutley were keynote speakers. Amber was sadly absent on the day. In support of the keynote speakers, RePAIR Fellows Katie Webb and Mary Jenkins were in attendance, as well as FNF Research and Policy Team Member Stacey Chambers.

Held in Reading at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, registration started at 09:00 – 09:30 where the excitement of attending an in-person event filled the air. After refreshments and networking with both new and familiar faces, usually seen virtually, all guests headed down to the event room where they were welcomed by Gillian who set the scene for the day. Ellie and Gabby were then welcomed to take to the floor to present their expertise on the strategic student voice.

Giving an overview of the programme of work delivered by FNF and funded by HEE South East, Ellie and Gabby detailed the establishment of six multi-professional student shared professional decision making councils across the South East region of England. There is one council per integrated care system (ICS) and membership of the councils includes student nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, and trainee nursing associates. All members are invested in via leadership development programmes, remuneration or practice hours for their time, and one-to-one coaching and mentoring with reputable professionals. This initiative is based on scaling up model of successful nursing student council pilot in HIOW spearheaded by Sue Hill, Jackie Munro, and Jessica Sainsbury.

Testimonials of the programme include:

Amber – It has allowed me to have enhanced leadership abilities, network with stakeholders, colleagues, and other students. I have had the opportunity over the last few months to speak to several universities on the importance of shared professional decision making councils, specifically the importance of shared governance.

Ellie – Part of our work as student council members is ensuring that the student experience is represented but also heard by being a part of stakeholder discussions and attending events like this.

Gabby – The boost in confidence the council has given me has helped me to positively risk take, and care less about what others might think. I feel confident in my own capabilities and know that I am part of implementing positive change for the future of healthcare students.

Reflecting on the 25% of nursing students who drop out of their degree in England alone, Ellie and Gabby with content from Amber highlighted the importance of student voice to be the following:

  • From feeling unheard to becoming a strategic voice for students,
  • Collaborative working between students, universities, and practice providers,
  • Strengthened communication.

Similarly, they identified what good looks like on placement which consisted of:

  • Understanding of practice assessment processes and documentation,
  • Equal learning opportunities for all,
  • Back to basics: induction, rostering, contact information.

The two then shared their visions for the future, including Ambers:

Amber – My vision for the future is to roll out shared professional decision making councils to all universities in the UK with nursing and midwifery degrees. I think there is a real need for students to band together throughout all organisations to work to one common goal, which I believe should be bettering the student experience.

Ellie – My vision for the future involves increased collaboration and cohesion between students, universities, and practice placement providers to improve student experiences through providing a sense of ‘belonging’ at a system. 

Gabby – My vision for the future and the need to reshape healthcare education is ensuring professionals supporting students on their placements adapt to the needs of each student.

To contact our students, find them on Instagram, Twitter or reach out via email.

Next on the agenda, the room heard presentations from the following guest speakers:

  • Chiedza Kudita – ‘Blended Learning through the pandemic (and beyond)
  • Esther Rowland – The Student Experience
  • Emma Flynn & Emma Cheeseman – Our future nurse is our future workforce
  • Lotty Costello – Collaborative Learning in Practice in Maternity Services
  • Sam Gounden – T-Levels in placement
  • Kat Lewis & Annie Meeks – Working across Acute (RBFT) Community & (BHFT) services to deliver dysphagia training for newly qualified
  • Angela Miller – Learning Environment Lead AHP Student Project
  • Sue Chilton & William Garbrah – Community pathway: Prioritising partnerships
  • Xenia Bray – Summer Placement for Pharmacy Students
  • Emma Flynn & Emma Cheeseman – Coaching Model – 3rd years mentoring 1st years
  • Annabella Pearce & Anya Makin-Terry – Supporting sustainable placements in primary care
  • Daniel Whitford – Passport to Preceptorship

The event was filmed. Do look out for the footage of each presentation here.

As the day concluded, attendees felt inspired by the contributions to the day and the clear commitment to ensuring good practice and positive student experiences.

Thank you to Gillian and the team for the invitation, and congratulations to Amber, Ellie and Gabby for delivering an impactful presentation.

To get in touch with us for more information on the programme, contact FNF’s Research and Policy Team and connect with our student community on social media using the hashtag #FNFStudents. 

This blog was co-authored by Stacey Chambers, Amber, Ellie and Gabby.