Foundation Degree in Healthcare Play Specialism

What is the entry criteria for the Foundation Degree?

A minimum of a Level 3 childcare or related topic i.e. play work qualification, Two years post qualifying experience in a related setting, Level 2 literacy and numeracy (i.e. GCSE English/Maths) Working in a healthcare setting in a paid or voluntary capacity.

Which ‘A’ Levels do I need and at what grade?

‘A’ levels are desirable but not required.

Must I be working in hospital in order to enrol on the course?

You are required to be working in a healthcare setting – this can be paid or voluntary – in order to enrol on the course. The minimum commitment required is 200 hours for each year of the course.

Is there any point in wasting time studying for a degree if I wish to be a Registered Play Specialist?

Yes, higher education should not be considered time wasted, particularly if in a relevant degree programme has been followed. A degree offers opportunity for greater choice of career options and progression.

What practical experience working with children do I need before I can start the training?

You require 2 years post level 3 qualification child orientated practice and sound knowledge of child development.

Can I do in house training to become a Registered Play Specialist instead of attending college?

No, the combination of in house training and college work is required in order to achieve the qualification to enable you to become registered and have a licence to practice

Can I study from home or attend evening classes?

The flexibility of study options will be set by the academic institution. In all situations this will include attendance at college/university and in the work place.

How many hours do I need to work?

You are required to work a minimum of 200 hours per year in an appropriate healthcare setting this may be in paid employment or in a voluntary capacity.

How often do I need to attend the college or university?

The timetable for college/university attendance is influenced and determined by local need.

How much will the course cost?

The cost of the course is determined by the individual Colleges.

Can I apply for a grant?

Colleges will be able provide this information.

Which colleges or universities will be offering the new course?

The pilot courses will be offered at Stanmore College and Bolton College with accreditation from the University of West London.

How soon will there be a course in other parts of the UK?

Colleges must contact the University of West London (formerly Thames Valley University) who own the intellectual property.

I am already qualified and registered, can I upgrade to the new course?

Yes, If you qualified between 2004 and 2010 you may be eligible to access year two (level 5) If you qualified before 2004 you will be required to complete both years unless you have acquired additional CAT points.

I am currently a HPS student, will my training still be valid once I qualify?

Yes, though the academic level of the new programme is higher it still only constitutes entry to the register.

Can I still apply for HPS positions if I have not completed the new course?

Yes, we have no reason to believe that employers will not continue to appoint registered HPSs holding previously recognised HPS qualifications.

Will there be a two tier system of registration?


How will the staff in the workplace be trained to mentor the student?

Specific training for mentors of HPS students will be provided by the colleges.

Can we look at the pathways of training from school to management level play co-ordinator?

Yes, once the new programme of study is in place it will be easier to map out pathways for professional career development.

How will mentors be supported and kept up to date to ensure consistent training for all students?

We understand that there will be a liaison / support mechanism set up for mentors from an assigned individual on the course team in addition to the instruction in the Practice Assessment Handbooks.

Will students be able to attend other hospitals so they get a rounded view of the role, work environments and conditions?

As students may be working in a variety of health care settings, in order to fulfil the proficiency requirements contained in the Practice Assessment Handbook, they may well have to gain experience outside of their normal place of work.

What does quality assurance in the workplace leading to a ‘licence to practice’ mean?

As HPSET grant the ‘licence to practice’ at the time of registration of the successful student it is vital that they are satisfied that the student is a proficient practitioner. This will be monitored by having a robust mentorship programme.

What will be the impact on play services/teams and supervisors?

As the student is ideally already a member of the staff team we would envisage that participation in the training programme will lead to improved understanding and performance by the individual thus providing a positive impact for all concerned.

What are the expectations on mentors –especially relating to time?

The descriptors for NHS job roles already incorporate mentorship duties so apart from some training which will be required to ensure mentors are fully aware of the specific responsibilities attached to the role they are undertaking with HPS students there will naturally be an extra time commitment required.

Will there be support and training for Mentors from universities or HPSET?

Training and ongoing support for mentors will come from the colleges.

What are learning outcomes?

Workplace learning outcomes are defined as ‘statements of what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time they complete the Foundation Degree. They may be stated in terms of expected knowledge, skills or attitudes’. They set the proficiency baseline for employment of new registrants which in the past has been mixed.

What benefit will learning outcomes have for students and how will hospital play be included in the learning outcomes?

Students will have a clear picture of what is expected of them in order to become a professional and newly qualified and registered HPS. ‘Hospital’ play will be embedded in the academic and practical aspects of the course.

Placement details etc.?

The need for placements will be in accordance with achieving the Practical Skills and will vary from one student to another.

Can students obtain a loan when studying for a foundation degree?

Information will be available from the college.

Will each student require a named mentor?

Yes, the named mentor/ assessor must be an experienced qualified and registered Hospital Play Specialist who has successfully undertaken the specific mentorship training programme to be provided by the college.

Can anyone else supervise a student?

Yes, other experienced qualified and registered Hospital Play Specialists can supervise a student in the workplace providing documented evidence of achievement and feedback.

Will it be up to colleges/universities to set their own attendance format?

Yes, as the delivery of the programme will need to reflect local need.

If successful completion of Practice Assessment Handbook is to be used as a condition of registration with HPSET– does this mean that the qualification can be awarded after one year of the programme?

No, completion of both the Practice Assessment Handbooks is integral to achieving the full academic qualification which can only be awarded at the end of year two (2).

Will the there be specific attention to the sick child in the programme?


As a mature student what are the entry requirements for the new course?

The entry requirements are as for all other entrants – a level 3 childcare qualification, 2 years relevant experience and key skills level 2 in literacy and numeracy.

Can I do the course working in a hospice or the community?

Yes, though to complete the Practice Assessment Handbook you may need to work/gain some experience outside of your normal work place.

Who would arrange placements outside of normal place of work?

It is anticipated that this would be the responsibility of the individual student.

How do students gain a range of experiences in different placements?

By meeting all of the requirements of the Practice Assessment Handbook.

Clarification on the role of mentorship responsibilities?

The mentor/assessor will be responsible assessing the student as well as signing off the competencies contained in the Practice Assessment Handbook. The mentor/assessor is required to meet with the student once a week for one hour for in depth discussion and analysis of recorded observations made during the week. These meetings must be documented and submitted with the Practice Assessment Handbooks at intervals on request by the college.

How will practice be assessed?

Practice in the work place will be assessed against set criteria and be documented in the Practice Assessment Handbook by the mentor/ assessor. This will be linked to the academic studies and monitored by a robust mentoring programme.

What can the HPS do to keep up to Foundation Degree level to stay in touch with students?

Continued professional development is the key to keeping in touch with students. A variety of relevant courses are available via distance learning which enable the qualified HPS to build CAT points.

Are there plans to top up to honours degree?

Yes, a route to an honours degree is a requirement of all Foundation Degrees.

What is the award if the student leaves at the end of year 1?

A high level certificate will be awarded if the student leaves at the end of year 1.

How will careers staff etc. Be informed and educated to training pathways for HPS?

Key organisations where there are contacts could be informed by direct (e)mail, publicity in journals and newsletters and on websites.

Who will be taking this Foundation Degree Course?

It is anticipated that staff with the entry qualifications who are already employed will be encouraged to step onto the professional training ladder to become qualified and registered. It is also open to volunteers working in the relevant healthcare sector.


HPSET is a registered charity; number 292218.