Supporting failing students: how collaboration is key

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) standards state that the balance between clinical practice and theory in pre-registration midwifery programmes must be no less than 50% practice and no less than 40% theory, with students being supported by ‘midwife teachers’ and ‘midwife mentors’ (NMC, 2009:18). Midwife teachers are expected to be involved in learning and assessment in both academic and practice learning environments by engaging in activities such as link tutoring; facilitating mentor development and updates; having a part-time clinical role or being involved with practice development, midwives' continuing professional development (CPD) or practice-based research activities.

Clinical practice is supervised and graded by sign-off mentors, ‘gatekeepers to the profession’ who confirm that students are clinically competent, commensurate with their level of training, and are fit for entry to the midwives' part of the register at the end of their 3-year programme of study.

This article will consider the importance of a collaborative approach between universities and clinical placement providers, particularly in relation to supporting failing students as, while ‘there has to be the recognition that some students need to fail’, sometimes students just require more focused support and planning to achieve the required skills, competencies and confidence in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-617
Number of pages3
JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
Issue number9
Early online date6 Sept 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sept 2018


  • Sign-off mentor
  • Competence
  • Collaboration
  • Failure to fail
  • Personal academic tutor

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