NHS teams up with schools to boost student grades and attendance

A scheme which offers insights into the workings of the NHS is improving school students’ grades, a hospital trust has said.

The trial project, called Aspire 350, is run by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and provides 40 pupils in years 10 and 11 with “life skills and development opportunities”, a trust spokeswoman said. 

Since its launch last February, more than 50 per cent of participating students have scored higher grades in their core subject areas.

One student, 15-year-old Vlada Liashok, from South east London said: “The course becomes a part of who you are – it has led me to the career I want, and provides us with the basic survival skills for life.”  

The project, funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, works with 40 students across three local secondary schools and a pupil referral unit who were identified by their schools as students who would benefit from the opportunity. 

Its curriculum, designed with the students, consists of weekly hour-long workshops delivered by NHS staff, charities and businesses.

Ms Liashok said the scheme helped her feel part of her new school after moving from Ukraine two years ago.

From left, Vlada Liashok and Thomas Soyemi (Picture: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust)

During the course – in a small class size of eight – Ms Liashok learnt essential life skills from financial management to first aid. She discovered that she wanted to study philosophy, politics and economics at university, and was inspired to think about her future career. 

Thomas Soyemi, Ms Liashok’s teacher and head of Year 11 at one of the participating secondary schools, said: “I’m always nervous about bringing in external groups in GCSE years as it can be disruptive, but Aspire 350 has been absolutely amazing.”

Another student and aspiring architect, Breanna Davis said she had never considered a career in the NHS before taking part in the programme. 

The 16-year-old from Croydon visited St Thomas’ Hospital with her fellow students to see the roles available within the NHS including engineering, paramedic and catering.

Following her GCSE’s, Ms Davis plans to sit her T-levels in digital business and then take up a career in architecture. 

She said: “The programme was quite life changing, as it gives you an experience of how hospitals work, and makes you want to think of them as a career path as well. I can now look at hospital architecture as a career path too.”

Hayley Robinson-Allen, schools widening participation manager and project lead, said: “Alongside building on life skills, we want to help young people in our local community pursue the careers they want, but perhaps in the careers they didn’t know existed within the NHS.”

Once students have completed the project they are offered support with entry level jobs, apprenticeships and internships at the Trust.

Pictured top: Breanna Davis and Hayley Robinson-Allen (Picture: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust)

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