Peter Bates > Service user and carer involvement in nurse education > Shaping the curriculum

Shaping the curriculum

“Approved education institutions, together with practice learning partners, must… ensure programmes are designed, developed, delivered, evaluated and co-produced with service users and other stakeholders. ” Realising professionalism: Standards for education and training  Part 1: Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education Published 17 May 2018, Standard 1:12.

From time to time, parts or all of the curriculum need to be refreshed, either because of new national guidelines, scientific developments or the evolving social and political context within which nursing operates. Public contributors may be involved at a variety of levels, including:

  • Vision-casting sessions in which a group of stakeholders go back to basics and redefine what makes a good nurse
  • Working with others within the framework of national requirements to make decisions about emphasis, teaching and learning styles and other matters where discretion may be exercised.
  • Joining a ‘task and finish’ group to set down all the details of a teaching module
  • Joining an approval body within the organisation to receive, critically review and sign off module or curriculum materials.

Service users and carers sometimes design and develop both offline and online learning resources. It can be especially valuable to explore with the people who originate these materials exactly how they want them to be used, so that, for example, the person retains some control of the personal account of illness or distress that they have shared.

Voluntary groups that have particular expertise can be very helpful in adding detail to specific areas of the curriculum.

Service users and carers who have been involved in the design and development process should be invited to the launch event for the new curriculum.


  • At the University of Leeds, service users and carers sit on the design groups at the level of curriculum, programme management and module design.
  • At the University of Hertfordshire, service user and carer alumni from the MSc in Mental Health and Social Inclusion are co-designing modules on mental health recovery.
  • At Wolverhampton University, at least two service users sit on the design teams for each new programme.
  • At the University of Lincoln, service users and carers are members of the Curriculum Advisory Group that approves all changes. In the University of Hull, service users and carers sit on the Learning & Teaching Committee and the Curriculum Change Committee.
  • At Birmingham City University, adults with learning disabilities have been asked for their views about what makes an effective staff member and this has influenced the overall shape of the curriculum.
  • At De Montfort University, service users and carers sit on the Module Planning Team.
  • At Leeds Beckett University, the service user and carer group are invited to comment on a draft of course content. Draft modules are sent to service users and carers for comment at Canterbury Christchurch University and the review form here that is used to gather service user views on draft modules at Edge Hill University.
  • At the University of Southampton and the University of Lincoln, service users and carers sit on the Validation Committee for programmes.
  • At the University of Greenwich, service users sit on the management group that carries out ongoing monitoring of the delivery of courses. At the University of Plymouth, service users and carers sit on the annual programme monitoring group.
  • At Bucks New University, service users and carers are members of the internal validation panel for the BSc/PGDip Nursing programme and received the same training and preparation as the academics on the panel, but in their own group.
  • COMMUNE is a three-year research project between five European universities and the University of Canberra. It aims to create a co-produced learning module to be taught as part of the tertiary mental health nursing curricula.