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New College Swindon: "T Levels are a gateway to a successful and rewarding career"

As a Wave 2 provider, New College Swindon has been delivering the Health T Level to their students for three years. In this time, they've made significant strides in connecting students with real-world experiences while preparing them to embark on a wide range of careers in the healthcare sector.  

We caught up with Karen Beecroft, T Level Health Programme Lead at New College Swindon, to find out more about the impact of the Health T Level on their students. 

Q: Tell us about your organisation and why you chose to deliver T Levels.  

A: “Our decision to offer T Levels stemmed from local demand for more NHS staff. In choosing to deliver the T Level, we’re able to provide students with the hands-on work experience and practical skills which are so crucial for progressing into healthcare careers. 

“We’re also incredibly lucky to benefit from a diverse range of occupationally competent staff, including nurses, a maternity assistant practitioner, occupational therapists and mental health specialists, which allows us to cover a broad spectrum and ensure comprehensive training across various healthcare disciplines.” 

Q: Can you explain how you help to find your students a suitable placement? 

A: “Our Employability team and Careers Extra scheme play a vital role. Through this, we collaborate with local employers, such as the Great Western Hospital, by inviting them in to help design our curriculum, see what we’re teaching the students, and offer placements. The T Level students are our future NHS staff, so it’s essential to have this employer involvement to help arrange placements to give them the practical experience they need.  

“This approach has been incredibly successful so far and our partnerships with the employers are continuing to flourish. When we first launched with the T Level, the Great Western Hospital offered us 8 hospital places for a cohort of 20 students. Fast forward to today, with a cohort of 48 year one students who undertook interviews with NHS staff, and they've extended 32 placements, which is incredible to see.  

“Beyond this, we’ve also managed to forge relationships with industry professionals – for example, our midwifery specialism was born from a chance encounter at an open event, where a practice education midwife was impressed by our set-up and the students’ work, resulting in us working together.” 

Q: What does an employer experience when they’re invited in to meet your students? 

“With a fully equipped hospital ward on campus, complete with delivery suites and a reception area, our students step into a realistic healthcare environment and employers are invited to come and observe the students in action. Our facilities further enhance the learning experience. 

“From uniform standards to hands-on simulations with a birthing mannequin, we ensure our students are fully prepared for the demands of the healthcare profession. It's this immersive approach that sets our T Level programme apart, equipping students with the skills and confidence to excel in their future careers.” 

Q: How has the T Level impacted your learners? Have you got any success stories you can share? 

A: “The impact has been remarkable. All our year two’s applying for university have secured places, a testament to their preparedness thanks to the T Level.  

“Our T Level cohort is growing, too – with 62 applications for the upcoming year. We’ve even seen one student progress from the verge of being asked to leave the course, to completely thriving in a maternity placement at our local hospital. So much so, that they’ve created a role especially for her as a maternity support worker.  

“More importantly, they’re currently in the process of setting up a midwifery degree apprenticeship, and the creation of this role will allow them to fund her as one of the first ever midwifery apprenticeship students – what a superstar!” 

Q: Can you describe some of the progression routes your learners have taken, or are planning to take, after completing the T Level?   

A: “Our students have pursued diverse paths, from pediatric and adult nursing and midwifery to psychology and mental health support work. We’ve also had students go on to be radiologists and one student who’s already been offered a paramedic apprenticeship upon completion of the T Level.  

“Currently, two of our students in the mental health occupational specialism have been offered paid placements at a local charity school for children with educational needs, who will be funding them up to up to degree level whilst in their roles – so they’ll be learning and gaining experience whilst earning at the same time!  

“It’s remarkable to see how the T Level has provided our students with such solid foundations for their healthcare careers, and just goes to show that one pathway and T Level doesn’t restrict you as a learner, but in fact expands your options by teaching you those key transferrable skills that are needed for working in the health sector.”

Pictured: New College Swindon T Level students

Q: Would you recommend T Levels to others? If yes, why?   

“Absolutely! I just wish T Levels had been around when I was at school and I was their age, because I would’ve loved it, and I would’ve jumped at the chance to do it. T Levels provide invaluable skills in a safe environment whilst you’re still young, giving students a solid foundation before heading to university.  

“With 315 hours of placement experience, students gain practical knowledge and skills, setting them apart from others and giving them an advantage. It feels as though T Levels are almost akin to a foundation year for midwifery, nursing, or paramedic studies. Take nursing, for example – with T Levels, students enter university with industry experience, ready to excel in their studies. They’ve already learnt all about communication, person centered care and infection control, which sets them above those applying that have just done their A Levels and haven’t had that placement experience yet.” 

Q: How has NCFE supported and advised you as you’ve delivered the Health T Level?   

“Our journey with T Levels has been greatly supported by NCFE. The Employer Set Project (ESP) student workbook and past exam paper resources have been great and provided essential exam preparation materials.  

“The biggest thing that helped us, however, was NCFE's signposting to the Education Training Foundation (ETF) and the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) on their website, which helped to identify any gaps in skills and knowledge around T Levels within our college and staff members. This has been instrumental in enhancing our teaching practices, and we ensure all staff complete a TNA when they first start teaching, enabling them to fully understand and implement T Level teachings and work alongside a tailored action plan.

I’m a great believer in T Levels, and I promote their benefits whenever possible. T Levels are not just a qualification; they are a gateway to a successful and rewarding career in the healthcare sector. 

Learn more about Health and Science T Levels and the range of qualifications available.

 

Channel website: https://www.ncfe.org.uk/

Original article link: https://www.ncfe.org.uk/all-articles/new-college-swindon-t-levels-rewarding-career/

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