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Bradford College Pioneers Virtual NHS Work Experience
Over 80 students at Bradford College have been involved in a unique pilot programme to learn more about the allied health professions that support patients in the NHS.
Working with a panel of experts from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Fast Track to T Level Health students took part in the first virtual ‘Aspiring Allies’ project to be piloted at a college.
Unlike traditional career schemes focusing on the roles of doctors and nurses, Aspiring Allies explores the 14 allied health professions available in the NHS, including osteopaths, physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists.
The online initiative was designed to help the Trust accommodate the demand for student work experience opportunities. Students participate in a six-module supported programme to learn the practical skills needed to progress into one of the allied health professions.
The Aspiring Allies initiative and its engagement platforms are funded with Ahead Partnership support and managed by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate AHP Faculty – a collective of healthcare and education institutions.
Vicky Carter, Head of School at Bradford College, sits on the Health and Social Care Board of Bradford District’s Careers and Technical Education (CTE), bringing together health professionals from across the region. This connection helps the College to embed NHS events and initiatives into the curriculum.
“We’re really excited about the new Aspiring Allies project. The idea came about through the local CTE board as a solution to a real problem faced by the NHS post-COVID-19, to alleviate some of the pressures placed on Trusts to give more and more young people real work experience in a stretched NHS.
“The modules our students completed count towards their work experience when applying to a Higher Education Institution for their career qualifications. The six-module programme takes approximately eight hours to complete, including two hour-long live sessions with 14 real allied health professionals and six hours of virtual self-directed work which explore all aspects of working as an allied health professional.
“The final panel is a fantastic opportunity for the students to ask as many questions as possible about these crucial but sometimes overlooked roles in the NHS.”
During module five, students created a job advert for their favourite Allied Health profession. These were shared electronically by Health and Care Assessor Hazel Lawrence and judged by the expert panel. The winner Taylor Bell received a £25 Waterstone voucher, with four other students highly commended.
Owing to the pilot’s success, the Aspiring Allies programme will now be embedded in the programme of study for all Level 3 Health & Social Care Award students. The aspiration is that this will become an access point into the Bradford College T Level in Health and T Level in Healthcare Science, and higher education or university programmes.
Further programmes have now been written specialising in Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. Bradford College hopes to roll these out in September 2024, which will, in turn, lead to real-life work experience.
The 5 July marks 75 years of the National Health Service. Bradford College will also be joining in the national celebrations and showcasing the vital qualifications and support they deliver daily to help fill critical roles in the NHS.