Richard Taunton Sixth Form College is working with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHSFT) as it prepares to introduce ground-breaking T Level qualifications that could help towards tackling the NHS staffing crisis.
The new Health T Level will enable students to have placements in a variety of clinical settings while studying for their academic level 3 qualification. The course can lead to a job role or to a university place.
The radically different qualifications for 16-18-year-olds, which begin in September, will offer a combination of classroom learning and 350 hours of work placements over two years, which will focus initially on healthcare and IT.
Curriculum manager Rob Collier and his team have met with the education team from UHSFT, and dozens of other employers linked to the IT programme to sign them up for work placements. “It’s always a challenge bringing in qualifications that people don’t know about and breaking any misconceptions,” he said.
“This is very different to what we already offer – there have always been apprenticeships and work placement schemes but T Levels tie all of that together and is a new and exciting experience.”
UHSFT already has experience in supporting young people with clinical placements and delivering preparatory training through a partnership with Eastleigh College. UHSFT has a great deal of experience in supporting and supervising learners who are 16-18 in challenging work environments where the care of patients and their families is central. “In the future, we hope they will be offering IT placements for us as well,” said Mr Collier.
He said the hospital has a track record in employing students who have been there on placement. “They see the benefit of working with someone like us,” he said. “The Trust sees the benefit of working with someone like us,” he said. “It gives students a pathway and although there are no guarantees, it’s a real possibility that something will come out of it. The placements are almost like a long job interview.”
Nicola George, Learning in Practice Facilitator, at University Hospital Southampton, said: “We are pleased to be working with Richard Taunton College to provide specialist knowledge and experience through placements to students on T Level programmes.
“Building on the foundations we have already laid through our work with Eastleigh College, this new partnership will not only give students a real-life insight into the wide range of care and services our hospital delivers but will also help to attract the next generation to a career in the NHS.”
T Levels are the equivalent of three A Levels and focus entirely on the subject. “Pathways into industry aren’t just limited to going down the university route and that’s the beauty of T levels,” said Mr Collier. “Some subjects lend themselves more to on the job training and being in the workplace and learning as you’re working – that’s where T Levels really shine.
“The conversations we have had with employers have been about making the placements meaningful, students will not just there making the coffee. It will be actually like employment and students will be working there and able to take the skills they learn back into their written work in college.”
Mr Collier, a former performing arts teacher at Richard Taunton who left to become head of department at Andover College, said he jumped at the chance to return. “There is so much that’s great about this place, the staff are fantastic,” he said.
“We want to grow and give the students the fantastic opportunities they deserve. Southampton needs destination colleges where you know you are getting outstanding teaching.”