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NHS Lothian

Sarah Smith, Healthcare Science Professional Lead / Education and Training Lead (Labs), shares how NHS Lothian has improved its Youth Employment Strategy.

The Science Training School, situated within the laboratory suite at St Johns Hospital, is a joint collaboration between NHS Lothian Laboratories and Fife College. The school consists of a training room equipped with teaching facilities, a training laboratory and a resource area.

The Science Training School was initially set up to provide bespoke training facilities to develop the laboratory staff and also to support the major change management process within Laboratories that realigns the current disciplines into Blood, Cell and Gene Sciences with cross training and to prepare the workforce for the future challenges.

Although this has been extremely successful with regular in house training sessions being delivered and staff being trained in new techniques, the range of science based programmes delivered within the school has expanded to include National Progression Awards; Professional Development Awards and the Higher National Certificate Applied Science.

These programmes are offered to all support workers & apprentices within Department of Laboratory Medicine; apprentices from science related industries and to S5/6 pupils within the West Lothian area.



A career pathway has been developed in order to progress a pupil from S5 to become a registered Biomedical Scientist.

There are three types of senior phase programmes offered to West Lothian Students:

HNC Applied Science over two years: This programme is offered to S5 pupils only and is delivered on two afternoons per week and enables the students to gain the HNC over two years. There is the option to leave at the end of S5 with the NPA.

HNC Applied Science over one year: This programme is offered to S6 pupils and is delivered over two days (Mon / Tues) and is dependent on school timetabling.

PDA Science: Offered to S6 pupils and is delivered over one day [Mon] and is dependent on school timetabling.

Those students that attain the HNC Applied Science can either progress to year 2 in a science related degree at various universities or they can apply for a Modern Apprenticeship.

Students who leave in S5 with the NPA and those who leave in S6 with the PDA can also apply for a Modern Apprenticeship.

The Science Training School collaborates with a number of science related industries thereby providing the students with the opportunity to visit the work place and gain an insight to the various careers available.

What benefits or impacts have resulted from these activities? 

For employers:

  • Provides potential employers to meet the students and give them an overview of the various careers available to the young people.
  • The NHS and the wider the life science industry will be able to recruit learners who have attained both the academic knowledge and the skills required, reducing the time for new recruits to be fully operational in the lab.

For young people:

  • Provides a variety of opportunities on leaving school – more positive destinations.
  • Learners gain access to work placements within a working NHS Laboratory
  • The training laboratory at the St John’s site will be run to industry quality standards ensuring that learners know what it means to work in a working lab
  • Small group work aids students understanding of both the academic and vocational work undertaken within laboratory

For the Public Sector: 

Pupils are learning about healthcare science career opportunities (over 50) available to them thus increasing the pool of potential employees.

Establishing the school has brought several benefits for each organisation.

Fife College has been able to learn from NHS Lothian laboratory staff and introduce modern realistic practicals into the curriculum thereby increasing staff knowledge through CPD sessions but also providing the students with work experience.

NHS Lothian training staff have been able utilise the college resources and undertake CPD in teaching and delivery. Some staff have been able to undertake teaching qualifications alongside the college staff thereby increasing their confidence in the design and delivery of in house training programmes.

The Science Training School team are working together to develop in house training to ensure that all initial training map to academic qualifications for support workers.

NHS Lothian Case Study Pic

For more details on the NHS Lothian youth employment strategy, please contact Sarah Smith via email or phone 01506 523162.