From education to employment

Future nurse focused on next steps after being named national T Level Student of the Year

An 18-year-old student committed to becoming a nurse has won an inaugural national award thanks to her outstanding attitude towards learning.

Isabel McElhatton, from Leeds City College, has embraced all aspects of the Health T Level – a new A Level-equivalent technical qualification – including her placement on male nephrology at Leeds General Infirmary, working with a range of hospital staff including consultants and clinical support workers.

As well as being offered places at multiple universities, Isabel has also been offered ongoing employment by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, once her T Levels are complete, enabling her to follow the trainee nursing associate pathway should she choose to do so.

It’s this outstanding drive and focus that has seen her named T Level Student of the Year at the Aspiration Awards – a national celebration created by the educational charity NCFE.

On winning the award, Isabel said:

“I was so shocked to be told I had won. There are so many other students who have worked really hard on what has been a really challenging new course.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my T Level experience and am so happy and proud to have been nominated and then to have won this award.”

Driven by her goal to become a nurse since the start of her course, Isabel always has a positive attitude, an excellent work ethic, and has been committed to the programme from day one.  

Isabel is happy to represent the group and college whenever there’s an opportunity, and has spoken with potential students, parents, employers, governors, and senior members of the Hospital Trust. She’s presented to large groups regarding her placement, contributed to focus groups in reviewing the T Level programme, and spoken with Ofsted about the student experience. 

Judith Fish, Programme Manager at Leeds City College, said:

“Isabel can always be relied upon to give a mature, thoughtful, and honest opinion. She’s worked consistently well across all elements of the curriculum, has a natural interest in the subject and demonstrates a clear understanding of, and empathy for, the needs of individuals.

“As well as developing a sound knowledge and understanding of the key principles underpinning health care, Isabel can apply these consistently to her work. She’s developed positive working relationships with all her teachers and has actively sought constructive feedback to develop her academic work.”

Throughout her course, Isabel has continued with her part time job – coaching swimming and supporting sport holiday camps – as well as playing netball for a local team. Isabel also loves to cook and had considered this as a career possibility whilst at school, however her recent experiences have now confirmed adult nursing as her chosen path. 

Created by the leader in vocational and technical learning NCFE, the Aspiration Awards are now in their sixth year and celebrate learners, educators, and educational organisations across the UK.

David Gallagher, NCFE Chief Executive, said:

“There isn’t just one definition of success. Throughout NCFE’s 175 years in this sector, we’ve seen it in many shapes – from going above and beyond to exceed expectations, overcoming obstacles to achieve the unexpected, or coming up with new and innovative ways of working to help others to achieve.

“This year’s Aspiration Awards winners are examples of how individuals can overcome barriers to achieve and fulfil their potential – and how a fairer education system for all learners can only serve to empower inclusivity and choice.

“We received a record number of entries this year – more than the last two years combined – making it the toughest judging year yet. These awards are a reminder of the transformative power of education and why we’re focused on shaping smarter learning, to ensure no learner is left behind.”

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