BackHow to... use the Placements tool
Here's how our Placements tool works
The Placements tool makes life easier for everyone involved in work experience / work shadowing / T-level placements and internships. Here's how it works.
If you're a teacher / adviser / counselor and don't have the Placements tool live at your school or college, talk to The Unifrog team on email@example.com.
Find best practice guidance for students, employers, parents, teachers and coordinators here (you can share this link with anyone).
**** New for Spring 2023 ****
New for Spring 2023 we've launched a suite of important developments. Here's a summary:
- Uploading into forms: If they’re required to, employers now upload straight into the Employer initial form their Employers’ Liability Insurance certificate, their H&S policy, and their Risk Assessment.
- Placement coordinators: Schools can assign ‘placement coordinator’ as a role to specific teachers, and then students can only pick teachers as placement coordinators who have been given this role.
- Editing nearly everything: Placement coordinators and teachers who are Editors can now edit nearly everything in the Student initial form, and the Employer initial form. This includes things like the start and end dates, and the employer and parent/guardian email addresses.
- Email fails: Three things: we now have extra warnings for students and teachers when an email has failed, we give full explanations of why an email has failed, and we let teachers with editing permissions edit failed email addresses (then re-send the emails).
- Auto-filling employer initial forms: Two things: Firstly, employers who have hosted a placement via Unifrog in the last 6 months now have most of the information about themselves and their organisation auto-filled (they can still edit this information if they want). Secondly, employers who are Unifrog partner organisations have more information auto-filled, including documents like their ELI certificate, and they also have the option to auto-fill placement-specific information (eg the start and end dates and the placement overview). Together these changes mean that the process for employers in setting up a placement is far, far faster and easier...
-----> Learn more detail about these changes in our guide here.
In a nutshell
The placements tool makes it easy:
- For students to get the ball rolling, then reflect on the placement afterwards;
- For the employer to follow and confirm that they follow best practices in:
- Health and safety;
- Covid safety guidelines;
- Risk Assessment;
- For the parent / guardian to stay informed of what’s happening;
- For teachers to have an overview of the whole process, including knowing at any time the status of each student’s placement.
Essentially the tool is a series of forms which need to be completed by specific people at specific times. We’ve woven through it explanations of technical terms, plus best practice guidance. As soon as one person fills in a form, the next person gets notified, so the whole process runs smoothly and automatically.
At the end of each placement, we ask the employer lead if they are up for hosting another student in the future. This creates for your school a searchable database of employers who are up for hosting placements.
Pro tip: Teachers get to the contacts database by going to the Manage page, then selecting the view ‘Placement contacts’; for day to day placements managing, go to the Manage page, select the view ‘Advanced’, then sort by Placements.
Become an expert in using the tool by reading the below, or get started quickly with this 4 min video:
What is a placement?
We consider a placement to be where a student has work experience with an employer. They need to be in direct contact with the employer, and they’ll likely be doing a bit of work shadowing, and their own project work that relates to what the employer does.
Other names for placements are work experience, WEX, work shadowing, internships. They can be paid or unpaid.
They should have more of an educational aspect to them than a normal job, but the student can be doing real work for the employer (though if that’s the case to a significant degree then the student should be paid!)
Important: if the student doesn’t have direct contact with the employer - eg the employer is putting on a course or event for lots of students and there’s not much direct interaction between the student and the employer - then we consider that a course / event / webinar, and not a placement. In this case students can record on Unifrog on the Activities tool that they’ve done the course, but it’s not appropriate to use the Placements tool for this.
Two types of placements
As far as the tool is concerned there are two types of placement: In person and Virtual.
For virtual placements:
- There’s no need for the parent / guardian agreement, the school permission, or the school check-in forms;
- Some of the questions are different, for example in the employer initial form we don’t ask about employer’s liability insurance;
- The tool gives the employer different best practice guidance, for example it tells employers to get familiar with this guide on communicating online;
- After the student has added the virtual placement, and the employer has filled in their initial form, the system sends the school / college placement coordinator an email letting them know that the virtual placement is taking place, allowing them to intervene if necessary.
This table shows the forms that make up the placements tool, including which forms are used only for in person placements (and if you really want to get into it, at the very bottom of this help guide we list the questions in each form).
|Form name||In person or Virtual?||What is it?||When?|
|Student initial form||Both||Student gets the ball rolling with basic info about the placement. They select the teacher who will be the lead from the school's/college's side - this person is known as the ‘Placement coordinator’. Only teachers who have been given the role ‘Placement coordinator’ can be selected; school/college staff can see which teachers this is on the Teachers page (Editors can give and take away this role).||The student creates it by clicking ‘Add placement’ on the Placements tool.|
|Employer initial form||Both||Employer details what the placement will consist of, and (for In-person placements) confirms Risk Assessment, Health & Safety, GDPR compliance, covid safety compliance, and Insurance.||As soon as the student marks the Student initial form as complete, this form is emailed to the employer.|
|Parent / guardian agreement||In person only||Parent agrees for the placement to go ahead.||As soon as the employer marks the Employer initial form as complete, this form is emailed to the parent / guardian.|
|Placement coordinator permission||In person only||Teacher (the Placement coordinator, or an Editor) agrees for the placement to go ahead.||As soon as the parent / guardian marks the Parent / guardian agreement as complete, this form is emailed to the school/college placement coordinator.|
|School during-placement check-in||In person only||Any teacher records check-in on the placement. NB: this form is optional! If a teacher never completes it, the form stays amber, without stopping anything else from happening.||This form goes live on the teacher side of the placements tool on the first day of the placement.|
|Employer review form||Both||Employer reviews how the placement went, and gives students advice for the future.||For placements with no end date, we send the form one month after the start date; for placements with an end date, we send it the morning after the end date.|
|Student reflection form||Both||Student reflects on what they’ve learnt.||For placements with no end date, we send the form one month after the start date; for placements with an end date, we send it the morning after the end date.|
Virtual placements: why doesn't the parent/guardian or placement coordinator need to give consent / permission?
When administering placements you have to balance the need to do appropriate checks with the need to make the process straightforward.
For virtual placements, after the employer fills in their initial form, the placement coordinator is sent an email telling them about the placement, meaning they can intervene if necessary. The system does not require the parent / guardian to complete a consent form, or the placement coordinator to complete a permission form.
This way, the school can always stop a placement from happening if they want to, but the system doesn't create work that doesn't need to be done.
We designed this workflow having talked to many experienced school and college placement coordinators, plus employers, students, parents/guardians, and carefully taking into account guidance from the UK's Health & Safety Executive.
I'm concerned about Insurance, Health & Safety, Risk Assessment, and Safeguarding!
We are too, and in fact this is the main reason why we have built the Placements tool. The tool is designed to make it easy for the placement host to get all the relevant paperwork together, and - on the other side of the table - for the school / college to satisfy themselves that everything is in place.
The tool is very thorough in asking the student, employer and parent/guardian for information about the student, the employer and the placement itself, so that all the risks can be discovered, and so that appropriate risk mitigation can be put in place. This includes the employer uploading their Employers' Liability Insurance certificate, Health & Safety policy, and Risk Assessment into the tool, so that all the other parties can view them. The tool also gives all parties best practice guidance to do with having a safe and successful placement.
Find everything you need to know about placements and Insurance, Health & Safety, Risk Assessment and Safeguarding in our guide Placements: the legals explained.
What about a student's special needs, illnesses or injuries that might affect a placement?
- On the ‘Student initial form’ which kicks off the process of organising a placement, the student selects whether they have any special needs, illnesses or injuries that might affect the placement. If they say ‘Yes’, they are given space to provide details.
- If a student has said ‘Yes’, the employer has to show that their Health & Safety policy and Risk Assessment provides for the student's particular situation.
- In the ‘Parent / guardian agreement’ the parent / guardian is asked if the student has any special needs, illnesses or injuries that are relevant to the placement, that the student has not yet divulged. Their answer is kept confidential from the student. Any details they give are flagged to the school/college placement coordinator, plus the employer.
Lots of emails
The Placement tool is essentially a series of forms that have to be filled in one after another. Each time one is done, the person who filled in the form gets a confirmation that they’ve done it, and the next person who needs to fill in a form gets an email notification.
It’s really important that everyone involved has the right email entered for them, and that everyone checks their email. To help avoid issues:
- We show each person involved everyone else’s email addresses;
- If anyone involved says they aren't getting the automated emails that the system generates, they should check their junk folders, and add firstname.lastname@example.org to their safe sender list / whitelist.
- Just in case emails aren’t getting through, we give teachers the hyperlinks to each form, so if necessary teachers can send the forms to people in some other way;
- If one of the automated emails the system sends bounces back, we show this to students and teachers with a big warning at the top of their dashboards, plus we explain to teachers why an email has failed (eg, we show if the email address doesn't exist at all).
We know that sometimes people need a nudge, so we allow both students and teachers to re-send the automated emails containing links to forms, but at the same time we don't people to be hammered by emails(!). Here are the rules we have in place for what re-sending students and teachers can do:
- To employer: You've been invited to host a [In-person / Virtual] Placement (re-send possible every 3 days)
- To parent/guardian: You've been invited to agree to an In-person Placement for XYX (re-send possible every 2 days)
- To school/college placement coordinator: In-person Placement for XYZ that needs your permission to go ahead (re-send possible every 2 days)
- To employer: You've been invited to host a [In-person / Virtual] Placement (re-send possible every 3 days)
- To parent/guardian: You've been invited to agree to an In-person Placement for XYZ (re-send possible every 3 days)
- To employer: Time to reflect on the [In-person / Virtual] Placement you hosted (re-send possible every 3 days)
When (and how) should a student add a placement?
Before adding a placement to the placements tool (which they can find just like any other student tool, via a tile on their homepage), students should first agree with an employer that the employer is up for hosting them, for example by email or over the phone.
After the student fills in the ‘Student initial form’ to get the ball rolling, the system automatically emails the employer inviting them to fill in the ‘Employer initial form’. If the employer isn’t expecting this email they probably won’t be best pleased.
Show me how it works
After students have added placements, they can see the status of their placements by going to the Placements tool via the tile on their homepage.
Teachers can see the status of any placement by going to their Manage page, viewing by ‘Advanced’, and then sorting by ‘Placements’. From here you can click into any of the individual forms:
Pro tip: Like any other view on the Advanced page, you can use the filters to drill down and find the students you want. There is a ‘Placements’ set of filters which allows you to filter for, eg ‘No placements added’ or ‘Some added but not finished’.
Teachers can also find a placements section within each student’s profile:
Parents and employers don’t have their own Unifrog accounts. To help them stay on top of what’s going on with a placement: we send them email notifications when they’ve successfully completed a form, when they need to fill in a new form, when all the forms to set up a placement have been completed, and also one to remind them that a placement is happening imminently.
All of the automated emails, whoever they are going to, look quite similar. Here’s an example (at the very end of this guide we show copies of all the emails we send):
The School during-placement check-in is optional, but after all the other forms have been done, teachers can convert a placement into an interaction with one click!
Guides on every aspect of the placements process
We have put together best practice guidance for students, employers, parents and teachers. On the basis that it’s good for everyone to be clued up, we show everyone everything. Here’s the link to the guides (right click to open it in a new tab); we put this on many of the automated emails, at the bottom of the employer and parent forms, and at the bottom of the placement tool for students and teachers.
A database of people who will host placements
To help schools build a database of people who have hosted placements, using the tool automatically creates a ‘Placement contacts’ database:
- Teachers get to the database by going to the Manage page, and viewing by ‘Placement contacts’;
- By default this page is sorted by ‘Basics’, which shows things like the postcode and sector of the organisation.
- You can filter by sector, and by whether the employer leads are up for hosting placements again, and you can bring up the email addresses of the employers, and also download the whole database:
How many placements have been added for different sectors
If you have the Placements tool live at your school / college, a 'Placements sectors' chart appears within Charts.
This chart only includes placements that the system thinks have actually started (for in person placements: the school/college have given permission and it's on or after the start date; for virtual placements: the employer initial form is complete, and it's on or after the start date):
I want to become an expert
This video is for teachers who are administering placements at their school; first it goes through each of the Placement tool forms in detail, and then it shows how you can administer the placements process, for example how you can see at a glance the status of multiple students' placement forms, and how you can use the Placements contacts view on the Manage page:
After a form is saved, who can edit it?
- Placement coordinators and teachers with editing permissions can edit most of the fields that appear in the Student initial form and the Employer initial form. They can make these edits at any point - even if the placement has already started (though in these cases, we show them nice big warnings that the placement has started).
- The Employer placement lead can edit this information until the Parent / guardian agreement is completed:
- Name of placement business / organisation
- Placement start date
- Placement end date
- Describe the time commitment
- Employer placement lead: name
- Employer placement lead: email
- Placement address
- Placement postcode / zip code
- Is this the workplace where you'll be based throughout the placement
- The Parent/guardian can edit this info up until the school consent form is completed:
- Parent/guardian name
- Parent/guardian email
Bringing back a placement that's been deleted by accident
Teachers with editing permissions can delete a placement at any point. Students can delete a placement up until the point that it starts. If someone deletes a placement by accident (despite the warning interfaces!) and you want to bring it back rather than start again, we can do this for you - but as it is complicated we will charge you £30 / $30 to do it.
What does each form consist of?
Here are all the questions we ask in each of the forms. Bear in mind that there are some differences in the questions for in person and virtual placements (for example for virtual placements we don’t ask how the student is going to travel to get there!), and some questions lead on to further questions (eg if a student says they won’t live at home as normal during the placement, they have to explain where they are going to live).
- Student initial form
- In person or virtual?
- School/college placement coordinator name
- Name of business / organisation
- Business / organisation phone number
- Start and End dates
- Describe the time commitment
- Employer placement lead name and email address
- Placement address
- Is this the workplace where you'll be based throughout the placement?
- Will you live at home as normal during the placement?
- How will you travel to and from the placement?
- Do you have any special needs, illnesses or injuries that may affect your placement? (the answer to this question is kept confidential from the parent / guardian)
- Parent / guardian (who must also be your emergency contact) name and email address
- Do you agree to abide by confidentiality, safety, and absence rules?
- Employer initial form
- Employer placement lead name, job title, email address, phone number
- Start date and end dates
- Time commitment
- Whether this is where the student will be based throughout the placement
- Organisation's sector and number of employees
- What languages do students need to be able to speak?
- Have you hosted a placement before?
- Overview of the placement
- Will the student ever be with an adult without another adult being present?
- Does the student need a criminal records (eg DBS) check?
- Does the placement and its environment carry any specific health risks additional to a low risk workplace?
- Dress code
- Is PPE or other special safety equipment required?
- Working hours
- Eating and refreshment arrangements
- Confirm that your Employers' Liability Insurance policy covers work placements, or that your organisation is exempt from needing ELI (and explain it is exempt)
- Insurance provider, policy number, expiry date
- Confirm that your organisation has a written, up to date and appropriate Risk Assessment
- Confirm that your organisation will follow Covid safety guidance
- Confirm that your organisation has a written, up to date and appropriate Health & Safety policy
- Confirm that your organisation will abide by data protection and privacy law
- Confirm that you will follow the safeguarding policy
- Parent / guardian agreement
- Name, email address and phone number
- Does the student have any special needs, illnesses or injuries that may affect your placement? (the answer to this question is kept confidential from the student)
- Confirm you're aware that the placement provider will have primary responsibility for the health and safety of the student
- Agreement for the student to take part in the placement
- School permission
- Name of school staff
- Permission for the placement to happen
- School check-in
- Name of school staff
- Check-in type (phone, in person, email)
- Check-in date
- Check-in notes
- Employer review form
- Employer placement lead name
- Did the placement happen?
- Punctuality and reliability rating
- Overall attitude rating
- Communication rating
- Problem solving rating
- Teamwork rating
- Independence rating
- Strongest competency, and example
- What you think the student should work on
- Would you be happy to host another placement student?
- Student reflection
- One thing you learnt through doing the placement
- What you did during the placement of which you're most proud
- How doing the placement impacted on your plans for the future
- How likely is it that you would recommend this placement to a friend?
All the Placement tool emails
Here are all the emails we send for in-person placements.
For virtual placements we send the same emails, but there are fewer because there are fewer forms (see the table above about the forms). One email that is special to virtual placements is that, for these, after an employer has completed their Employer initial form, we send the school/college placement coordinator an email letting them know that the placement is happening, so they can intervene if necessary.
- To the student: You've got the ball rolling
- To the employer: You've been invited to host
- To the employer: Thank you for completing the Employer initial form
- To the parent/guardian: You've been invited to agree
- To the parent/guardian: Thank you for completing the Parent agreement
- To the school/college placement coordinator: Your permission is needed
- To the student: It's going ahead
- To the employer: It's going ahead
- To the parent/guardian: It's going ahead
- To the school/college placement coordinator: It's going ahead
- To the employer: Insurance reminder (Only sent if the employer has said that their insurance will expire before the end of the placement; we send this email the day after they've said that their insurance will expire)
- To the student: 7 days to go
- To the employer: 7 days to go
- To the parent/guardian: 7 days to go
- To the student: Time to reflect
- To the employer: Time to reflect