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Science industry placements - Pre-placement



This section of the toolkit can help you prepare T Level students for their science placement. It can also help you consider which aspects of the pre-placement process you want to review, making sure students have a clear and comprehensive picture of what the placements involve. Use these resources to:

  • set learning objectives for placements
  • give students a full picture of the sequence of learning they can expect during placement
  • help curriculum staff identify the best student placement match when used with the student’s job role, the employer’s requirements, and normal scientific practice.

How to use these resources

Select the relevant resources for your needs:

  1. Pre-placement learning plan
  2. Student readiness and objective-setting
  3. Placement sequencing and timetabling

Use the activities described to plan learning, set objectives, and sequence learning. Adapt the activities if necessary to suit your organisation.  

Who are they for?

Share these with staff who are involved in designing the placements and specifying the learning activities students will undertake during placements:

  • T Level course leaders and tutors
  • staff involved in placement design.

Pre-placement learning plan

These pre-placement activities are linked to the T Level curriculum and to employers’ expectations of what students should be able to do when they start the placement. Links are given to useful resources which contain examples of what to include in the activities.

Checklist: pre-placement learning plan activities

Purpose Activity Links
Develop good scientific discipline Undertake a research activity and mini project on the principles of good science discipline and the themes of good manufacturing processes (GMP) in medicine manufacture and production.

The key outcome is to better understand the need for:
  • consistent application of processes
  • following standard operating procedures and formulae
  • accuracy of measurement, timing, and recording.

The activity will also identify the student’s aptitude and potential for scientific working processes.
WHO Medicines:
Good manufacturing practices

Safety Culture: What is GMP?

Gov.UK: Good
manufacturing practice and
good distribution practice
Use a computer and the main software packages competently Science uses several software applications including:
  • spreadsheets
  • visualisation (Visio/SmartDraw)
  • data handling and transfer
  • internet research in the academic environment (scholarly research).

Projects can be set to analyse data, find literature, and use sources to complete paragraphs of analysis, reporting, or topic-led essay writing.
Most software applications offer limited access for free, trial applications, and licences for academic use.
Develop analytical thinking skills Students can be set a problem to solve, or a practical task to undertake to develop the core disciplines of analytical thinking; Observation:
  • analysis
  • identifying bias
  • inference
  • problem-solving
  • curiosity.
Students can use these disciplines to:
  • identify a problem
  • clarify the problem (reframe)
  • come up with ideas to solve it
  • develop and implement their ideas
  • evaluate outcomes.
Develop critical thinking skills Critical thinking can improve the application of scientific discipline:
  • encouraging deeper, more productive discussions
  • facilitating open communication between team members
  • resolving issues between team members and stakeholders more quickly
  • developing better solutions to problems
  • reducing stress throughout a project
  • preventing repetitive issues
  • achieving better results faster.
Examples of problems could include:
  • crime scene investigation puzzles
  • data analysis problem (how to identify what’s going on)
  • calculations and options puzzles (escape room)
  • online apps and software.
Know how to be thorough and pay attention to detail This is a key discipline and can be practised using experiments, calculations, and the preparation of materials and resources.

Activities can include:
  • researching specific science topics
  • undertaking measurements and calculations
  • recording information.

Test Gorilla: Attention to detail
why it's a critical skill
for your organisation

Indeed: How to improve your attention to detail

Career addict: How to improve your attention to detail skills

Develop the ability to use initiative Initiative and command tasks such as the ones shown in the links highlight important team processes and give students the chance to apply their skills in practical situations. Team Craft: Team initiative activities

Experiential learning: Command tasks for cadets and teen leadership activities/
Develop the ability to work well with others Small group tasks are also good for developing teamwork skills, especially where students rotate roles including:
  • group leader
  • timekeeper/rules lead
  • outcomes recorder
  • diarist
  • operations (as many as needed).
Tasks can include conceptualisation, design, and build stages, for example:
  • design a new soft drink campaign
  • come up with ideas for an app and develop it
  • plan a party or a social event
  • plan a day trip or outing
  • design and market test a new gadget.
Venture Team Building: Team building activities/

Surf Office: Team building activities work
Develop thinking and reasoning skills Codebreaking and problem-solving are excellent starting points for developing these skills.

Activities could include:
  • presenting students with data sets from a range of experiments and asking them to deduce the answer
  • presenting students with the solution to a complex problem and asking them to identify the steps used to elucidate them.
Simon Singh: Great cryptography books/

Student readiness and objective-setting

Student learning objectives are set in the pre-placement stage; when they have successfully applied for a placement, but before it starts. Set learning objectives using information captured during discussions with employers about the placement. Make sure objectives align with the employer’s requirements for students when they start their placement. Use the objectives to help prepare students for the challenge of going into the placement.

Checklist: pre-placement - student readiness and objective setting

Objective Purpose Timeline
Conduct a health assessment To meet the employer’s requirement for health screening where applicable including understanding vaccination requirements and DBS checks. 3 months before the placement is due to start.
Develop employability skills To ensure the student has the necessary communication and teamwork skills needed within the placement. Throughout the pre-placement period through part-time work and other activities including class-based activities.
Introduce standards, policies, and procedures To help students understand the basics of what the employer expects them to know and how to behave, including health and safety requirements. Throughout the pre-placement period through assignments, projects, or class-based activity.
Learn to use equipment To make sure that students can use equipment such as glassware, pipettes, centrifuges, and electronic equipment, to at least a basic standard. Pre-placement where possible with the option of front-loading the use of specialist equipment early in the placement.
Practice written skills To familiarise the student with recording tools and techniques and protocols for completing documentation, labels, and symbols, and to develop accuracy in spelling scientific terms. Throughout the pre-placement period through activities that require accurate writing and competence in recording observations, colours, scales, and measurements.
Practice maths for science To develop mathematical skills and aptitudes, including the use of specialist mathematical terms (milli-, micro-, nano), the ability to work with scientific notation, and an understanding of relative scale. Pre-placement where possible with the option of front-loading to match the type and number of numerical manipulations required by the employer.
Scientific discipline training To make sure that the student knows how to use evidence to draw inferences or to reject theories unsupported by evidence. Throughout the pre-placement period through activities in which students analyse data, use observations, and make inferences based on sound critical thinking.
Ability to use software To make sure the student has at least a basic level of competence in software packages used by the employer, such as Matlab, Excel, and Word. Throughout the pre-placement period through access to practice sessions and data sets.

Placement sequencing and timetabling

This resource explains how to give students a full picture of the sequence of learning during their industry placement. Curriculum staff can use this to select the best fit for the placement and to show how the placement will develop students’ logical and evidence-based thinking, helping them to follow good scientific discipline.

The template lists components of the T Level which may be relevant to a science placement – tick if they are relevant to each placement. Together with employers, plan when students will focus on each component during the sequence of the placement. Options suggested are:

  • initial learning; when students first apply their knowledge, skills, and behaviours
  • consolidation; when they revisit these components to improve their performance and commit their learning to long-term memory.

To complete the template, providers and employers should ask:

  • Which of the components are relevant to the placement?
  • When (at what stage in the placement) will students start to apply the knowledge, skills, and behaviours for each relevant component?
  • When (at what stage) will they revisit each component?

Template - T Level components that are relevant to a science placement

Downloadable resources

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