Notebook with the word 'apprenticeship' written on it, with calculator, glasses and marker all visible in the frame


The Royal Free London (RFL) has received a grading of ‘Good’ following an Ofsted inspection of the trust’s apprenticeship programmes.

The inspection took place over three days, and was the first time that the trust had received a full inspection, having become the first NHS trust to be approved as a main provider for the delivery of teaching apprenticeships in July 2019. This approval means that the trust is subject to Ofsted inspection like any other school, college or nursery in England.

At the time of the inspection, there were 20 apprentices on the level 2 health care support worker apprenticeship and 14 on the level 4 mammography associate apprenticeship. Some apprentices were also undertaking the level 3 community health and wellbeing apprenticeship and the level 3 business administration apprenticeship.

The inspection consisted of speaking to apprentices, line managers and leaders of the programmes, and observations of the training provided. A provisional grading was provided at the end of the final day before a validation process returned a final report in August.

The report found that apprentices “thoroughly enjoy the practical training they receive while they work in a range of hospital wards and doctors’ surgeries across the trust.”

The inspection report also stated that apprentices develop their confidence, resilience and character during their training and quickly gain new skills and knowledge.

Leaders “have a clear rationale for choosing the apprenticeship standards they teach,” it also said.

“They are ambitious to provide world-class teaching and care. The apprenticeship standards they offer provide pathways to careers within the NHS that are locally and nationally in high demand.”

The trust received the grading of ‘Good’ in all five categories of inspection, including: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, and apprenticeships. The inspection result means it is unlikely to be inspected again for approximately four years.

Paul Marijetic, head of apprenticeships at the RFL, said the team were really pleased with the result.

“We received verbal feedback following the inspection, and we have now created a quality improvement plan to build on from this grading.

“With that we plan to keep promoting the value that apprentices and apprenticeships can add to the trust.

“Apprenticeships are for everyone, not just young people or just for staff in lower bands. We have had apprentices who are 16 and our oldest is 61, and there are apprenticeships for every line of work which are all fully funded centrally and do not come out of departmental budgets.”

Crystal Akass, group chief people officer at the RFL, said:

“I am really proud of this first full inspection outcome and of all of the learners and educators who have helped us to design and develop our programme of apprenticeships delivered in-house. Education is enshrined in our tripartite mission and enabling colleagues at all bands and in all professions to develop and improve their knowledge and skills is a vital way in which we make Royal Free London both a great place to work and a great place to receive care.”