Kingston University’s first T-level placements will begin this summer, offering local sixth form students the opportunity to gain on-the-job industry experience and develop vital practical and technical skills as part of their laboratory science course.
T-level qualifications are aimed at 16 to 19 year olds and are equivalent to three A-levels. Designed to meet the needs of industry and prepare students for entry into skilled employment, they were launched by the government in September 2020. The two-year courses offer students practical and knowledge-based learning at school or college, as well as on-the-job experience through industry placements of at least 315 hours.
Four students from Ursuline Sixth Form in Wimbledon are the first group to have been offered placements at Kingston University as part of their T-level courses. They will work as technicians in the University’s new immersive pharmacy skills simulation suites as well as the chemistry and life science labs at its Penrhyn Road campus. There are also plans to give them experience in the institution’s award-winning nursing and midwifery skills laboratories.
As well as learning some pharmacy and chemistry course content during the placement, tasks being undertaken by the students will include typical technician roles such as preparing and setting up laboratories for University students’ experiments and simulations, clearing up after classes and ensuring health and safety requirements are followed.
Kingston University’s Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education technical officer Daren Chapman said the placements will provide students with practical experience of working within a scientific environment.
He said: “We have a great relationship with Ursuline School and wanted to give the pupils a chance to learn vital skills on the job – the T-level placement will give them more in-depth knowledge than work experience placements typically provide. It will also allow some of our technical staff to take on more a mentoring role, which will help with their own personal development.”
Agatha, an 18-year-old T-level laboratory science at Ursuline School, wants to have a career in occupational therapy and said she is looking forward to the placement as she prefers doing practical work.
She said: “I’m going to be working with professionals who have great experience in their field and are now teaching others – the feedback will be invaluable and I’m looking forward to being able to apply my creative mindset and the development and experience I will gain from the placement.”
Aspiring adult nurse Latusha said the placement will help build her confidence and give an early indication of what university life is like.
“Doing T-levels will give me new experiences and help boost my career prospects. I want to be more confident in how I interact with people and this placement is the perfect opportunity to help me do that,” the 18-year-old said.
Assistant Headteacher at Ursuline School, Ben Barton, who has responsibility for technical education, said the placements at Kingston University would be hugely beneficial for their students.
He commented: “The future world of work will need greater numbers of technically skilled people and the T-levels can really help close this skills gap.
“These industry placements are a great way to support the development of skills and enhance their employability after they graduate.”
The placements will begin at the start of June and take place over the summer, with plans for Kingston University to offer more T-level placement opportunities in the future across a range of subjects.