The Common Placement Assessment Form (CPAF)

Find out the latest CPAF developments and what you can do to get involved

Common assessment placement form

The Common Placement Assessment Form (CPAF) was launched in September 2021 as a standardised way to assess all physiotherapy learners on placement throughout the UK. Here we pause to reflect on the journey so far and discuss the next steps in its ongoing development.     

The past 

Two years ago, there were more than 40 different placement assessment forms in use across over 50 UK universities offering pre-registration physiotherapy programmes. 

This made it harder for practice educators to take students on placement from different universities. In addition, many existing forms were not applicable across all four pillars of physiotherapy practice – Clinical, Education, Leadership and Research – limiting the much-needed exposure to diversity in placement settings to which the profession aspires.  

Working together with representatives from practice and education, the CSP saw an opportunity to transform practice-based learning by creating one form, which could be used by all learners and across all pillars of practice.

A form where we would be able to prioritise the knowledge, skills and behaviours to help develop a future physio workforce that thrives in modern, complex and diverse UK healthcare systems.

Amongst others, CPAF features learning domains on collaborative working, population health, anti-discriminatory practice, health inequalities and leadership. 

Following multi stakeholder involvement, a five-month pilot phase and HCPC (Health and Care Professional Council) regulatory approval, CPAF launched in 2021.   

The present 

Since its launch, we have been working alongside universities, practice educators and students to support the profession to transition over to CPAF. 

Resources have been created, including guidance documents and ‘how to’ videos, and many workshops have been completed bringing together all those involved in its use.

Based on the results of a recent survey, we are pleased to report a 98 per cent uptake of CPAF across UK universities. This was essential to its ambition and equates to over 6,500 physiotherapy students being assessed in one standardised way.         

100 per cent of those using CPAF also reported that all students were successfully assessed against all 10 learning domains regardless of the placement setting.  

Isabella Townsend second year physio student at the University of Hertfordshire
Isabella Townsend second year physio student at the University of Hertfordshire

This applicability of CPAF across all areas of practice is particularly exciting for the evolution of our profession. It opens up more diversity in placement settings, better reflecting current health care provision and providing more opportunity to see physiotherapy through a range of different lenses, inspiring careers and understanding the breadth of what we do.   

As we pause and start to plan the next steps for CPAF, it’s important to celebrate how far we have come. Thank you to everyone across practice and education who has supported its successful roll-out. It wouldn’t have been possible without your buy-in, engagement and time to get used to a new way of assessing, which we know was not always easy. 

Isabella Townsend, a second year physio student at the University of Hertfordshire, said: ‘CPAF allows for consistency within clinical and leadership placements as well as between all students. It enables active engagement and ownership in our learning.

Lousie Bone senior teaching Fellow and physio practice education co-ordinator at the University of Southampton
Lousie Bone senior teaching Fellow and physio practice education co-ordinator at the University of Southampton

There are many positive aspects of using the form which ensures equality throughout different universities and all students.’

Meanwhile, Lousie Bone, a senior teaching Fellow and physio practice education co-ordinator at the University of Southampton and a clinician at Peartree House Rehabilitation, said: ‘As a clinician CPAF has really helped provide consistency across the board and minimises the training required for different universities. 

‘I like that the CPAF encourages students to be more reflective in their practice and proactive in taking ownership of their learning experience.

‘As a trainer we can link with other HEIs to offer more training to practice educators which is flexible around a busy work environment. More opportunities for collaboration can only improve the experience of educators and students alike.’

The Future

Have you used CPAF? Tell us what you think…… 

Whilst we celebrate the success in the applicability and uptake of CPAF we also recognise the ongoing need to evaluate the tool, capture users experiences and learn from feedback received.  

Whether you are a learner, a practice educator, a member of the wider student supervision team or a university representative we would like to hear about your experiences of using CPAF.

Become part of the CPAF Working Group 

A CPAF working group will also be created to review the survey data and use this to inform the refinement and optimisation of CPAF. 

We aim for the working group to have student, practice and university members and diversity representative of the profession across the UK. 

Please fill this form in to express your interest in becoming part of the group.

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