Creating inclusive placements
5.12 All students must have an equal opportunity to take up and benefit from work placements and to achieve the designated learning outcomes. However, some students may feel their options are limited by geographical location, working hours on placement, travel arrangements, building accessibility, their own caring responsibilities or the need to earn money. Schools should therefore:
- try to find as wide a range of placement opportunities as possible;
- collect information about physical access, travel arrangements and likely working hours from each placement provider;
- give students plenty of information at an early stage about the opportunities available;
- where relevant, ensure that a fair procedure is used to allocate placements for students who have particular individual requirements.
5.13 It is important to monitor the experiences of different groups of students when they are on placement. This can include reviewing feedback from students and placement providers, and analysis of any complaints or problems.
Access to Placements for Disabled Students
5.14 The University and the placement provider both have duties to ensure that disabled students are not discriminated against and to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled students are not placed at a disadvantage compared with non-disabled students. Adjustments can include changes to the physical environment, provision of equipment or specialist technology, or alterations to policies, criteria or practices.
You must ensure that you do not discriminate in any of the arrangements that you make with work placement providers and that where relevant they are made aware of the needs of their placement students with protected characteristics. If you are told that discrimination has occurred, you will need to negotiate with the work placement provider to try and resolve the issue and may need to find an alternative placement.
You must also ensure that a work placement provider is aware of the need to make reasonable adjustments for those disabled students who require them.
A student with a visual impairment who requires all written material to be in large font is studying on a degree course with a work placement element. The university fails to advise the work placement provider of the student’s reasonable adjustments needs and as a result the work placement provider fails to make the necessary reasonable adjustments. This is likely to be unlawful (adapted from the Equality and Human Rights Commission)
Guidance for Providers of Further and Higher Education
5.15 What adjustments it is reasonable to have to make will depend on individual circumstances, for example, the impact of the student’s disability, the type of placement being provided, the nature and length of the placement and the importance of the placement to the course or to the particular student’s learning. Some of the other factors to be taken into account in determining what is reasonable are:
- the financial resources available to the institution;
- the cost and practicality of making a particular adjustment;
- health and safety considerations;
- the duty to respect confidentiality;
- the relevant and legitimate interests of other people;
- the need to maintain academic and other prescribed standards.
Ensuring that appropriate adjustments are made will require effective communication between the School, the student, the Disability and Dyslexia Service and the placement provider. Discussions will need to take place in the context of the specified learning outcomes and with an understanding of the student’s individual requirements.
5.16 Some students may already have told the University about their disability, but it is important to offer all students a further opportunity to discuss their individual requirements and encourage them to disclose any disability, medical condition or specific learning difficulty which might affect their learning on placement. Placement co-ordinators should explain that disclosing a disability enables appropriate support to be put in place and any reasonable adjustments made. Note, however, that under the Data Protection Act 1998 written consent must be obtained from a student before any information regarding the disability can be shared.
5.17 Placement co-ordinators may wish to draw up a placement agreement which sets out the adjustments that will be made, how these will be monitored and, if relevant, how they will be funded. It is essential to involve students in drawing up these documents. The Disability and Dyslexia Service also offer expertise when considering such issues, and can assist the student in applying for any available funding
5.18 Anticipation and forward planning at the programme design stage will help ensure inclusive work placement provision and often, extra time spent during the preparation period may be all that is required to ensure a disabled student’s work placement fully achieves its aims. Records of placement providers that have demonstrated a good capacity to offer accessible opportunities should be kept to inform a broadening portfolio of potential host companies.
 Further guidance is available at www.disabilitytoolkits.ac.uk/academics, http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/work-placements-report/ and www.open.ac.uk/inclusiveteaching/pages/inclusive-teaching/work-placements.php
 Information on statutory duties is available at www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/further-and-higher-education-providers-guidance/