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READERS’ BLOG

How will educational reform impact future recruitment for the NHS?

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Health & Social Care as a GCSE and A-level will soon be a thing of the past, Suzanne Collyer explains why a “vocational equivalent” may not meet students’ needs

NHS trusts are struggling to fill vacancies for many Chief Nursing roles across England, yet recent reform to GCSE and A-Level qualifications has meant that from September 2017 Health & Social Care will no longer be delivered under these qualification titles.

Students wanting to explore these career and training avenues will now have to do a “vocational equivalent”, that has still to be presented to schools by exam boards, or they will need to carry on with more traditional, theory-based A-Levels to enter a health related profession.

”From September 2017 Health & Social Care will no longer be delivered as an A-level or GCSE”

In my 15 years of teaching and 12 year as a teacher and examiner of Health & Social Care at both A-level and GCSE, I have seen significant numbers of my students go on to third level undergraduate courses in a wide range of health related subjects; from nursing and midwifery to operating department practitioners and social work.

I have also seen large numbers go straight from school and college into work-based training in various care settings in the local community.

Feedback that we often get from employers is that our students enter their roles with exemplary knowledge and qualities displayed in their day to day work with service users; skills and qualities many have developed over the two years completing their A-level qualification.

”Students enter their roles with exemplary knowledge and qualities displayed in their day to day work with service users”

Last year an ex student came in to talk to some year 11 students about her work as a hospital care assistant before starting her nursing degree.

She was really explicit to the students about how relevant what she’d learnt on the A-level course was to her current position and future career as a nurse.

She was really keen to get across that she used many of the key topics covered on a daily basis, such as maintaining confidentiality and promoting individual rights and beliefs as well as the importance of practitioners working in partnership with multidisciplinary teams.

Colleagues from other schools have voiced concerns that an “A-level equivalent” will not be seen as being equal to A-level subjects by students and parents, resulting in lower uptake.

”I am struggling to see hope for this subject in the future”

In fact, many schools are saying that they will not offer these “equivalents”.

I am struggling to see hope for this subject in the future. With no disrespect to some of the more traditional subjects, would it not be better for future practitioners to enter employment or training with some foundation knowledge of the basic principles and values of care?

Would this not have a more positive impact on the quality of recruitment and retention as well as on patient care in the long run?

Suzanne Collyer, Head of Health and Social Care

 

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