Ambulance apprenticeship training makes the grade

First full Ofsted inspection results in ‘Good’ overall rating

North East Ambulance Service has achieved a ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted for its apprenticeship training and education.

The Trust has been delivering its own ambulance support worker apprenticeships since 2018, led by its clinical education team at its purpose-built education centre on the Team Valley trading estate in Gateshead.

The Trust also supports its staff across all staff groups through many other relevant apprenticeships.

The team underwent an initial monitoring visit inspection in July 2019 and then its first full inspection in March 2022, where inspectors looked at the quality of education delivered by the team, as well as behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

NEAS achieved high grades across the board in all judgments:

  • quality of education - Good
  • behaviour and attitudes - Outstanding
  • personal development - Outstanding
  • leadership and management - Good

Overall, it was graded as ‘Good’ which is an excellent achievement of all staff and students involved.

In total, 206 NEAS staff are currently undertaking an apprenticeship through work, ranging from clinical roles to cyber security and customer service. Of those, 166 are on the ambulance support worker apprenticeship delivered by NEAS, training to become ambulance care assistants or clinical care assistants whilst working on the patient transport or emergency ambulance vehicles.

Inspectors praised the facilities provided in the Trust’s Education Centre, which opened in May last year and include a simulation village with immersive experience, three moving and handling rooms set up as a bathroom, bedroom, lounge, dedicated stairs for moving and handling training, and a wet room to allow for trauma training.

They said apprentices “are well prepared for their roles through practising in a range of scenarios that familiarise them with tasks that they may encounter in their job roles” and “benefit from educators’ extensive real-life experience, including attending major incidents such as the Manchester Arena bombing”.

They added that apprentices “apply themselves well to their studies, show unwavering commitment and enthusiasm, and most have high attendance”, adding that a high proportion achieve high grades in their end-point assessments.


An assessment was also made as part of the inspection regarding safeguarding for learners, where the judgement is either ‘effective’ or ‘not effective’; NEAS was judged as ‘effective’ due to having “a highly effective culture of safeguarding” within the organisation.

Only one area was identified where the Trust could improve at the next inspection:

  • Ensure the feedback provided to learners is consistently specific so apprentices are aware of how to improve their written work and are aware of any errors in their written work so they can make improvements.

Karen Gardner, Head of Workforce Development at NEAS, said: “Apprenticeships provide our staff with the option to achieve fantastic transferable qualifications as well as hands-on training where skills learnt can be put into practice.

“We have a fantastic, highly qualified and experienced education team and facilities at NEAS which has had significant investment by the Trust, demonstrating the commitment the organisation has to continually support and develop its staff. It’s testament to them that we currently have one of the highest successful achievement rates in the North East and over 50% of our achievers do so with distinction!

“This Ofsted inspection report shows just how committed and dedicated our education team is in delivering and supporting all of our staff and also the hard work our students put into their education to achieve the results they rightly deserve.

“I am so proud of the team and the students and I am absolutely delighted with the result which clearly demonstrates all of their hard work.”  

Karen O’Brien, Director of People and Development, added: “We’re committed to making NEAS a great place to work, and offering opportunities for staff to grow and develop is a key part of this. Likewise, this strong result shows that when our new staff join the service, we equip them with the skills and confidence to in turn deliver an excellent patient focussed services to the people and communities across the North East.

“The whole team who play a part in apprenticeship delivery from recruitment, safeguarding, education, pastoral support and mentoring are incredibly passionate and dedicated in supporting our staff to be able to work in line with our Trust values of compassion, accountability, respect and excellence.”

Recruitment is set to re-open for clinical care assistant apprentices in September.

All NEAS vacancies are available to view on NHS Jobs at the following link:

The full Ofsted report is available to view online here:

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