Placement Time! – Anne Rodgers

At this time of year people beginning their study towards qualifications in Early Years Education or Health and Social Care will often start to attend  placements for the first time.  Your first placement can be daunting and in this article, I hope to set out some ways that it might be made a little easier.

Once a setting has been allocated and contact has been made for the first time, the first day of placement will be here before you know it!

A setting will often allocate a mentor for their learner, whether a student or an apprentice, so that they have one person to go to when they need to ask any questions or to find out what it is that they need to know. The mentor’s role is usually to:

 - advise and guide learners on aspects of the setting’s routine and different job roles that are available in the setting
 - plan and evaluate the time that learners spend in in the setting
 - discuss progress with learners
 - liaise with the college or learning provider
 - monitor the learner’s attendance and support their learning

At the beginning of the placement, the mentor should let the learners know about any health and safety procedures within the setting, such as fire drill procedure, where the first aid box is kept and how to raise the alarm if needed. At the start of the placement, they shouldn’t leave the student alone or in sole charge of the children, but should start to build real-life skills by allowing the learner to spend time working alongside other practitioners.

The learner’s role during the placement is usually to:

 - ask for witness testimonies or work products that they need for their course work
 - adhere to the setting’s code of conduct, policies and procedures
 - seek permissions for observations and learning journal extracts from parents or staff
 - respect and value staff, parents and children
 - uphold the child’s rights and dignity
 - ask if not sure about anything that they have been asked to do, if they’re unsure


Once familiar with the routines of the setting, learners shouldn’t wait to be asked to do something.  It’s ok to use your initiative to get on with the job at hand, so that you are making a valuable contribution to the staff team. Alongside that, however, it’s important for learners to know that they are there to learn and so are not expected to know everything; we all have to start somewhere!

One issue that may arise is attendance.  It’s important to make sure that learners have details of how, if they are not able to attend or may be late, to let the setting know as early as possible, to make sure that the setting is prepared for the day when they’re a pair of hands down.

Its hard being new to a setting but  it can help for learners to familiarise themselves with where things go and what happens next within the daily routine.  This can help people on placement to get the most out of their time there and experience all that is on offer.

The placement officer from the college or learning centre will monitor the learner during visits to the placement setting and complete observations and activities with the person on placement throughout their qualification.  These visits should be planned for in advance, to allow the learner and the setting to prepare. Don’t worry if things do not go as planned as children can be unpredictable and may not wish to do the activity that the learner has planned for them or they may choose to engage with it in a different way. There are very many benefits to having this type of practical training and some of them are:

 - enabling the matching of theory with practice
 - learning new skills
 - improving prospects for future employment
 - opportunities to use initiative, learn time management and practice organisational skills
 - insight into job roles within different settings

Good luck to anyone new to settings on their first placements, those stepping into new roles within settings and anyone who is organising placement opportunities with learners for the first time.  Above all, I hope that you all enjoy your experiences.  It’s worth it!  It really is a worthwhile and valuable career.

Til next time……….


Anne Rodgers – Early Years Consultant – I have worked in early years for 36 years and have owned my own chain of nurseries, taught EYPS and CACHE students, written books and articles on early years topics and currently offer help and support to settings including putting on training courses for staff CPD