Henley College celebrated National T Level Week by officially opening their new T Level Health teaching facility on Wednesday. The facility, enabled by funding from the Department of Education, features a purpose-built hospital ward and observations rooms, allowing students to learn practical skills in a real life environment.
The opening was attended by special guests Eamonn O’Sullivan MBE (Chief Nurse at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust) and Henley Mayor, Michelle Thomas; together, they officially opened the facility with a ribbon cutting. Also present were Henley College Governors, staff, and students.
T Levels are a new qualification that bring together classroom-based learning and work placement, and are equivalent to three A Levels. T Level Health is the first T Level to be offered by Henley College. During their studies, students will develop the knowledge and skills needed for a wide range of healthcare jobs. The college’s new facility will allow students to refine their practical skills in preparation for their 45 days of work experience (as required by the course).
Suzi King, one of the teachers on the T Level Health course, explained, “We do the theory, as you would expect, but this space gives us opportunity to do practicals alongside the theory, so as soon as you have taught the theory you can then apply it.”
Fellow T Level Health teacher Kareen Everett-Brown said, “It’s really good because we get to do a lot of practical lessons in here. Before it was just, theory, theory, theory. The fact that we can demonstrate some of what we teach to the students is really good and it helps to build their confidence, so when they go to placement they have already practiced what we teach them, and they can carry on and build on what they’ve learnt here.”
The students taking the T Level Health course at Henley College will have the opportunity to do their work experience at the Royal Berks. Eamonn O’Sullivan, Chief Nurse at the Royal Berks, said, “We are really proud and delighted to have some of these young people coming into the Royal Berks to work across our wards and departments, and taking what they have learnt here and applying it in real world scenarios, and hopefully inspiring them to become the future nurses and doctors and physios and allied health professionals and occupational therapists. We are really excited about this. It’s a long term commitment for the people of Berkshire; it’s a real pipeline into the profession and we’re really delighted to be part of it.”
Eamonn has been a qualified nurse for 29 years, having works predominantly within adult intensive care. He said to the students on Wednesday, “I think despite what you read about the NHS and the challenges of the NHS, you are entering a fantastic profession in terms of the NHS family. There’s 180 different career paths that you can choose, and this fantastic world class environment — and it really is — will set you up for that. We are proud to partner with you, and I hope to see you on some of our wards and departments in the future.”
Before cutting the ribbon to open the facility, Mayor Michelle Thomas said, “I am so delighted to be here with you today. For those of you who know me, I am a huge supporter of everything to do with education, and I’m very lucky, this is my third occasion to visit Satwant and some of the students and teachers here. I am so pleased with what is happening here today. It is an absolute honour to be able to cut the ribbon for this facility.”
Olivia Oleszczuk, one of the students at the College, said, “I think it’s an amazing facility to have. Not many colleges get a facility like this to do hands on work. Most people need to wait for universities or work experience to do this, so having this at the college and being able to learn as you go, rather than just learning and then later having to do practical work, is a lot better for students, especially visual learners. The teachers are very good on this course. They are very good at supporting, and that’s what you need with a facility like this.”
Satwant Deol, Principal of the Henley College, stated, “I am really thrilled about today and about what we have developed here for our young people. This is a real life ward, and this T Level course has employers involved giving work experience of 45 days. It’s amazing. We’ve got teachers who have come from the industry to teach on this course, and it’s really good to see that actually this is a vocational course for real skills, helping them to be tomorrow’s employees. It is invaluable. It is teaching them skills here and now rather than being classroom based. It’s really practical and modern and we’re very excited.”
From September 2023, the college will be offering three more T Levels courses in IT, Engineering and Business.