Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) has entered a formal partnership with Retford Oaks Academy to become the newest Foundation School in Health (FSiH) and the second only of its kind, marking a bolstered relationship between education and healthcare in the region.

The official launch event on 12 October was marked by the students of Retford Oaks Academy displaying their many talents – from pencil sketches to sculptures of the solar system, live piano playing, and a tasty spread of appetisers made by students completing their hospitality and catering GCSE.

Jane West, assistant principal at Retford Oaks Academy, said: “We are so excited to have been asked to play such a pivotal role in this initiative. Not only will our students benefit, but so will other students across Bassetlaw and the wider community. We are also excited to plan and execute the ‘We Care into the Future’ event that will reach so many.”

The partnership intends to develop opportunities and widen participation for students from the Bassetlaw area wishing to pursue a career in the health service. This will see an increased involvement from health professionals at the academy, work experience and internship opportunities for students with a tailored approach to the Bassetlaw youngsters.

Luke Dickinson, acting principal at Retford Oaks Academy, said: “We are privileged to become the second school in the country to gain NHS Foundation School in Health status. We thank Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals for making this initiative available to our students, which will increase their awareness and progression routes into the vast range of careers available to them with the country’s largest employer.”

In October 2018, the UK’s first FSiH was introduced in partnership with Hall Cross Academy and DBTH. The first of its kind, the partnership achieved many of its objectives set about prior to the pandemic. The introduction of a work experience framework, and the ‘We Care into the Future’ health and social care careers event for all year 8s across the borough, are just some of the successful outcomes of the first Foundation School in Health partnership with Hall Cross.

Professor Alasdair Strachan, Director of Education and Research at DBTH, said: “The launch of Retford Oaks Academy as the second Foundation School in Health was a great success. In partnering with the academy, we are providing students with ample opportunity to explore their interests across our 250 professions. This helps develop our partnership with other local schools, develop innovative ways of enthusing students about health and care which will also help develop a pipeline into this important workforce.

“Building on our model with the first Foundation School in Health, Hall Cross Academy, we are excited and ready to begin this new chapter with the students of Retford Oaks Academy.”

Start-up funding for the FSiH project has been supported by The Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement. One of only six NHS anchor institutions chosen, the Trust were awarded an incredible £25,000 for the initiative.

As part of the Health Anchor Learning Network (HALN), the Trust hopes to share the framework, prompting other NHS Trusts nationally to initiative similar partnerships with their local education providers.

Heather Widdup, executive principal at Retford Oaks Academy, said: “This partnership will create a wealth of experiences and opportunities for the students. We hope that by working together we can develop the skills and aspirations of the students so that they, and the wider community, can benefit from this exciting initiative. This partnership has been a long time in the making and I am delighted to see it formally come to fruition.”

Employing 6,700 people, both medical and non-medical, the Trust aims to be a transformational partner with other health and social care providers and to develop innovative strategies to widen participation across the range of its employment opportunities.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of Yorkshire’s leading acute trusts, hosting three main hospital sites and a number of additional services. The Trust serves a population of over 440,000 across South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire, and surrounding area.

One of only six Teaching Hospitals in Yorkshire, the Trust trains a quarter of all medical students in the region and around 30% of all other healthcare professional students.