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Implementing collaborative learning in practice in a London maternity ward

02 September 2022
Volume 30 · Issue 9


A collaborative learning in practice pilot study in a maternity unit in a London Trust has been carried out. Collaborative learning in practice is a model for supervising students where they work in small groups under the guidance of a practice supervisor. The pilot found that the model is a possible approach to increasing placement capacity that provides an equally enriching, if not improved, learning experience. Improvements were seen in peer support, confidence and responsibility, teamwork skills, new learning opportunities and being better prepared for practice after graduation. Reflecting on the experience of implementing the first cycle of the pilot, this article provides guidance to healthcare education providers for implementing the model in practice placements. The guidance offers a modified model, establishing key personnel as collaborative learning in practice champions and providing adequate preparation for students, staff and the environment.

In 2018, the Department of Health and Social Care (2018) announced plans to expand the numbers of registered midwives working in the NHS. To facilitate this growth, Health Education England (HEE, 2019) recognised the need to grow clinical placement capacity by 25% across England by 2022. In recent years, clinical placement capacity has been completely filled by students in training, and a range of pressures is being exerted on the system, including staff turnover, the availability of appropriate practice supervisors and practice assessors and variations in the birthrate between services (Markowski et al, 2021).

The work of the Pan London Midwifery Expansion Placement project, led by HEE (London) supported an initiative to introduce a pilot at the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust to organise midwifery students’ learning in practice, known as collaborative learning in practice (CLiP). CLiP originated from the University of East Anglia and was successfully implemented first for nursing students and later for midwifery students at the local partner trust, James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) (Hill et al, 2015; 2020; Tweedie et al, 2019). A visit to JPUH inspired the research team, led by the University of Greenwich, to explore the feasibility of transferring the model to a London maternity unit serving a very different demography and operating a service with a high turnover of women, which was frequently running at full capacity (Tweedie et al, 2019).

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