Over 80 students at Bradford College have participated in a pioneering pilot program aimed at providing insight into the allied health professions that play a crucial role in supporting patients within the NHS.

Collaborating with a panel of experts from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Fast Track to T Level Health students took part in the inaugural virtual project known as ‘Aspiring Allies,’ making it the first of its kind to be implemented at a college.

Unlike conventional career initiatives that primarily focus on the roles of doctors and nurses, the Aspiring Allies project delves into the 14 allied health professions available in the NHS. These professions include osteopaths, physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists.

The online program was developed to meet the growing demand for student work experience opportunities within the Trust. Through a comprehensive six-module supported curriculum, students acquire the practical skills necessary to pursue a career in one of the allied health professions.

The Ahead Partnership, in collaboration with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate AHP Faculty, which comprises healthcare and education institutions, has provided funding and management support for the Aspiring Allies initiative and its engagement platforms. The pilot at Bradford College stands as the largest program to date and the only one to be implemented in a college, following two smaller schemes at Wakefield and Cullingworth schools involving 16 pupils.

Vicky Carter, the Head of School at Bradford College and a member of the Health and Social Care Board of Bradford District’s Careers and Technical Education (CTE), which brings together health professionals from the region, emphasises the college’s commitment to incorporating NHS events and initiatives into the curriculum.

Vicky stated, “We’re extremely enthusiastic about the new Aspiring Allies project. This idea emerged as a solution to a genuine problem faced by the NHS in the aftermath of COVID-19, as it aims to alleviate some of the pressures on Trusts to provide real work experience opportunities for an increasing number of young people within an already strained NHS.”

“The modules completed by our students count towards their work experience when applying to Higher Education Institutions for their career qualifications. The six-module program, which takes approximately eight hours to complete, includes two hour-long live sessions with 14 allied health professionals and six hours of virtual self-directed work, covering all aspects of working within the allied health profession.”

Vicky further added, “The final panel provides a fantastic opportunity for students to pose questions regarding these crucial but sometimes overlooked roles within the NHS.”

In module five of the program, students were tasked with creating a job advertisement for their favorite allied health profession. These advertisements were shared electronically and evaluated by the expert panel, with Taylor Bell emerging as the winner, receiving a £25 Waterstone voucher, while four other students received honorable mentions.

Due to the resounding success of the pilot, the Aspiring Allies program will now be integrated into the curriculum for all Level 3 Health & Social Care Award students at Bradford College. The aim is for this program to serve as a gateway into the Bradford College T Level in Health and T Level in Healthcare Science, as well as higher education or university programs.

Furthermore, Bradford College has developed additional specialised programs focused on Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. These programs are slated to be introduced from September 2024, ultimately leading to real-life work experience opportunities.

As the 5th of July marks the 75th anniversary of the National Health Service, Bradford College is proud to join in the nationwide celebrations, showcasing the vital qualifications and support they offer on a daily basis to address the critical workforce needs of the NHS.