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NELFT celebrates National Apprenticeship Week with Joanne Sayer

National Apprenticeship Week 5-11 Feb 2024, photo of Jp, NELFT logos on right hand

National Apprenticeship Week is an annual celebration which showcases the benefits that apprentices can bring to local communities, organisations, and the wider economy.

To mark the week, North East London NHS Foundation Trust is shining a light on the positive impact apprentices have made in providing care to service users in the local community.

The Trust spoke to Joanne Sayer who is completing an apprenticeship to work towards a Speech and Language Therapy Degree.

What made you interested in taking up an apprenticeship?

“I initially qualified as a nursery nurse in 2006 and through my role I supported children with their speech development. I found this to be really rewarding, and this prompted me to consider a career as a qualified speech and language therapist as I am passionate about empowering children and young people to be heard.”

Joanne has worked for the NHS since 2012 and upon joining NELFT in 2022, a 4 year speech and language apprenticeship became available, and Joanne’s clinical lead supported her through the application process.

How is your apprenticeship organised?

“I spend 1 day a week at university, 1 day a week learning which could involve shadowing colleagues or observing clinics, and 3 days a week in my substantive role as a Speech & Language Therapy Assistant in Redbridge. I will also have a 2 week observational placement later this year.”

Redbridge Children and Young People’s Speech and Language Therapy Service assesses and provides intervention for 0-18 year olds with speech, language, communication and feeding needs.

The service works across a range of settings including, the child development centre, community clinics, the youth justice service, special schools, also offering virtual appointments where appropriate.

How are you supported?

“I have 2 supervisors who are Speech & Language Therapists and they have supported me through the skills I’ve have had to complete and evidence as well as with my required learning. My clinical lead has also been very supportive and flexible with my workload.”

What ‘skills for life’ have you gained through your apprenticeship?

“A key skill has been the ability to multi-task which I’ve exercised through juggling work, university and the responsibilities in my personal life. My apprenticeship has also really increased my confidence and self-belief.”

Joanne is looking forward to completing her apprenticeship and becoming a registered Speech and Language Therapist to continue supporting children and young people. Joanne was recently awarded a place on the Dean’s List for Excellence at Essex University, which celebrates the high achievement of students & apprentices who achieved an overall distinction (average mark of 70% or above).

To find out more about the Speech and Language Therapy Service, visit: NELFT Speech and Language Therapy Service

For career opportunities at NELFT, visit


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