University Centre Leeds is celebrating a pioneering new apprenticeship partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital.

As part of its wider push to bridge skills gaps in healthcare, University Centre Leeds, a member of Luminate Education Group, is teaming up with the famous children’s hospital to launch the Level 5 Health Play Specialists (HPS) apprenticeship.

This is the first partnership of its kind between the hospital and a higher education institution and is intended to equip apprentices with all the practical skills and experience they will need to provide effective therapeutic play.

The apprenticeship standard has been designed by Leeds City College and Nescot College, alongside hospitals, including Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, University College Hospitals London, Manchester Children’s Hospital, Health Care Play Specialist Education Trust (HPSET), among others.

Jacquie McPartlan, Deputy Head HE Sport and Health at University Centre Leeds, said: “We have worked closely with Great Ormond Street over the last year to put together a package to start in September and this bespoke programme, the first of its kind in the region, will give learners the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification.”

Jacquie, who said that the apprentices will learn remotely, added that the university is currently working with a cohort of learners from Great Ormond Street Hospital. Their six-week reviews will also be carried out at the hospital.

Learners will meet as a cohort at Great Ormond Street Hospital on workshop days to embed learning and promote collaborative working whilst completing the apprenticeship.

This apprenticeship is completed whilst studying the Health Play Specialism foundation degree. The programme is aimed at both volunteers and staff employed in the sector and provides an opportunity to gain transferable skills necessary for employment.

Laura Walsh, Head of Play at Great Ormond Street, said: “The apprenticeship format is perfect for the Health Play Specialist qualification, and we are delighted to be able to support this quality addition to the routes into this valuable profession.”

For more about the apprenticeship and how to apply visit the website