Trust’s apprenticeship programme gets the Ofsted seal of approval

The delivery of apprenticeships at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been rated good across the board in its first full inspection.

By Joshua Wright
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 3:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 3:16 pm
The Trust's apprentices pose for a group photo.
The Trust's apprentices pose for a group photo.

Northumbria Healthcare, which runs hospitals and community services in Northumberland and North Tyneside, began delivery of apprenticeships as an employer provider in 2017.

A team from the Government education watchdog carried out an inspection in November last year and their report has revealed the trust has been rated as good overall and across all five categories – quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, apprenticeships.

At the time of the inspection, there were approximately 150 people undertaking level 2 and 3 apprenticeships with the trust.

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The report states: ‘Apprentices demonstrate very positive attitudes to their learning. They are proud to be apprentices and to work in an organisation that cares for people. Apprentices acquire the skills and experience that quickly enable them to become trusted and valued members of their teams.’

It also notes that apprentices ‘move rapidly into full-time work and take on additional responsibilities’ and that they ‘benefit greatly from the wider opportunities for personal development available to all employees in the trust’.

Ruth Auton, Northumbria Healthcare’s head of education, learning and organisational development, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been rated good by Ofsted in our first inspection and to have this endorsement across our apprenticeship programme.

"We have worked very hard to develop our apprenticeship offer and are looking to push on to bigger and better things.”

Northumbria Healthcare’s apprenticeship schemes are a great example of what’s taking place under the banner of the trust’s Community Promise – a commitment to the communities it serves about how it can do more than provide excellent health and care services, by also focusing on six key pillars – poverty, education, employment, economy, environment and wellbeing.

The target is to increase the number of apprentices by 30% over three years, with attention paid to ensuring opportunities are available for people from all backgrounds.

In their report, the inspectors said: ‘Leaders have a clear commitment to apprenticeships that enable young people across the region to gain their first role working in the NHS. They have carefully selected apprenticeships that provide the education and training that their existing employees need in order to develop their skills and advance their careers.’

Karen Hookham, Northumbria Healthcare’s apprenticeship services manager, added: “As an organisation we are always looking to recruit and retain the best people to add to our excellent staff team and apprenticeships are an obvious way of harnessing the talent that is available, either through younger people getting started in their careers or more experienced people looking to go in a new direction or develop new skills.

“However, we aren’t complacent and accept that there is always room for improvement. Quality improvement is one of the trust’s core values and we certainly apply that to the apprenticeships programme as well.”

The report says that the trust should make sure all managers support apprentices to access their off-the-job training entitlement and that tutors and assessors make full use of assessment and feedback.