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Health Academy students graduate

13 March 2019


The first group of students to successfully complete the James Paget University Hospital Health Academy programme have graduated – with some now set to start their careers in health care.

Earlier today, Wednesday 13 March, the students took part in an awards ceremony, marking the completion of the Academy programme and highlighting their work since September last year. 

The Health Academy was announced in February 2018 as a new initiative to provide students at local schools and colleges with an introduction to roles in the NHS.


The aim was to give young people the chance to learn more about the different jobs available and to give a path from education into working at the hospital, to boost recruitment to the variety of roles in health care.

The James Paget’s Education and Practice Development team approached three local colleges - East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Lowestoft Sixth Form College and East Coast College – who all signed up to the initiative.

Local schools followed – with the college students becoming the ‘Senior Academy’ and school pupils the ‘Junior Academy’.

The hospital team then went into schools and colleges to talk to students about the initiative and what it could offer them. Anyone interested in a future career in healthcare, whether as a nurse, doctor or other health professional, was then invited to apply for the Academy.

Those successful in their applications for the Senior Academy continue their studies at their College but are released for a few days over a six month period, from September, to take part in sessions at the hospital’s on-site Education and Training Centre.  The sessions are designed to give more information about potential careers and an insight into what working in a busy hospital is like.

Junior Academy students from different schools are invited to special days at the Education and Training Centre covering similar topics in a more relaxed format.


Sharon Crowle, Head of Education and Practice Development at the James Paget, says the Academy is one of the ways the hospital was looking to encourage more people into nursing and associated careers.

“We aimed to show the students what opportunities they could have within the NHS and hoped that some would go on to apply for health related courses. The students are now applying and many are choosing careers such as nursing and in their evaluations are stating that the academy has influenced their decisions.

“I have watched the students’ confidence grow over the months and the skills they have gained will be beneficial throughout their lives.”

Today students gave group presentations about what they have gained from the programme before an audience of their peers and tutors, ahead of completion certificates and achievement awards being presented.

In addition to the partnership with schools and colleges, the hospital is working with the Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach (neaco).  Neaco is a unique collaboration all the higher education providers in East Anglia and operates under the Take Your Place campaign. The programme supports young people in years 9-13 to plan their future education. 

Tom Levinson, neaco Project Manager, said; “The James Paget Health Academy has been supported with funding through our grants scheme, part of the Take Your Place programme, and sits alongside a range of other activity across the region, led by our Higher Education Champions’ work in schools.

“This project is a localised and targeted way to meet the needs of the local community, supporting the aspiration and progression of young people to higher education, and we are delighted to have been able to support it.”

Sharon Crowle said; “Close partnership working is crucially important to supporting young people to increase both their knowledge and understanding of career opportunities and higher educational pathways.

“Through the Academy and this partnership working we’re hoping to increase aspirations and show young people some of the opportunities that are available.”

Some quotes from participants in the Academy programme;

‘I have become so much more confident and learned so many valuable skills'

‘It has given me experience and opportunities which I wouldn’t have received elsewhere’

‘The academy has helped me to understand what working in a hospital is like and how all departments work together to provide the best care.’

‘Allowed me to experience a hospital setting and confirm that’s where I want to work.’

‘There were multiple opportunities to talk to healthcare workers from all aspects of the hospital.’

‘Interactive workshops were creative and interesting.’

Students have expressed a desire to work in the following professions – Adult Nursing, Children’s Nursing, Midwifery, Radiography, Occupational Therapy and Pharmacy, as well as wanting to become social workers or paramedics.

The selection process for Academy students to start in June 2019 is currently underway.