Dawn and Victoria blaze a trail as UON’s first OT apprentices

Date 24.11.2022

The University’s Occupational Therapy Team had two extra reasons to celebrate at this month’s graduation ceremonies with their first-ever apprenticeship alumni.

University of Northampton’s (UON) programme allows students to combine their studies on a part-time basis with a paid occupational therapy job.

As students only need to come into campus for teaching and other support for one day each week, the apprenticeship route is ideally suited to a range of aspirant occupational therapists, such as mature students or people who have family commitments.

To ensure apprentices have access to the same range of support as students on the standard degree route, they are given a bespoke package when they are on campus.

For this dedicated ‘Support Hour’, UON team members – such as those from the library or the Learning Development team as well as module leaders and programme lead Jane Campion – drop into the apprentice’s teaching area so everything they need to succeed is under one roof at the same time.

Apprentices take class alongside OT students from other programmes, creating a rich, diverse learning experience, with apprentices sharing their work-based experiences and standard degree route students passing on learning from their lectures.

At the end of their three years of study, apprentices gain a full BSc (hons) degree the same as their peers.

Looking back on their time at UON are Victoria Portsmouth and Dawn Kennedy. Victoria (pictured, on the right) says: “Since qualifying I have continued to work for the NHS within a rapid response team as an Occupational Therapist. The transition from apprentice to qualified therapist was prepared for by my employers and through the work completed at the University, particularly on practice placement.

“I feel very fortunate to have been part of the first cohort of OT Apprentices at University of Northampton and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.”

“All the tutors have been incredibly supportive and approachable. It has been a very intense, whirlwind three years but worth everything that myself, the University, and my workplace have committed to it.”

Dawn (on the left) adds: “It feels very surreal but also great to have finally graduated and to say that I’m an Occupational Therapist. I’m enjoying the new challenges and putting into practice what we have learnt from university within my qualified role at Milton Keynes City Council.

“Jane has been amazing, right from the interview I had before I started my course through to end point assessment, providing encouragement, support, words of wisdom and the occasional shove in the right direction when it was needed.”

Jane Campion, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy (in the middle), adds: “Many congratulations to Victoria and Dawn, our first ever Occupational Therapy Apprenticeship graduates, the first in the East of England, too.

“They really are trailblazers as, when the apprenticeship started at the University of Northampton three years ago, they were our first and only students. They were incredible students, but the learning experience has been very much reciprocal. We have adapted the programme with their feedback and evaluation that has helped drive us forward. Now, we have 50 apprentices enrolled across all years and look forward to bumper graduations in the future.”

See our website for more information about the Apprenticeship in Occupational Therapy.