A Sea-Change in Hull Schools: Better Services for Young People

The idea
A visit to Sweden sowed a seed that was to take root a decade later in schools across Hull. Pat Farley was in the middle of her school nursing training when she saw school-based health services first hand in Sweden. Teenage pregnancy rates are low in Sweden and Pat was impressed by the model of providing sexual health services for young people on the school site.

The opportunity
When East Hull got New Deal for Communities funding in 2002 this provided an opportunity to try out the Swedish model in Hull. Young people at the three secondary schools within the NDC area were asked about their needs. They said they wanted access to sexual health services both in and out of school and better education about sex and relationships. Governors and senior management at David Lister School were quick to get involved and a drop-in service offering advice, condoms and pregnancy testing was set up. Gradually the other two schools gained confidence and began offering a similar service. In each case school nurses delivered an enhanced SRE programme to complement the service.

Extending provision
When the NDC money now finished the value of the services was clear and the costs were picked up by the Primary Care Trust. All schools have taken up the offer of SRE sessions run by school nurses (with the exception of one school who have SRE support from youth workers). The SRE programme is based on the APAUSE model and nurses receive specialist training before delivering the sessions. From September 2007 most schools across East and West Hull will have an on-site sexual health service. Each school completes a Service Level Agreement with the PCT. They can opt out of particular services, for example, not all schools offer emergency hormonal contraception.

Archbishop Thurstan School
Archbishop Thurstan School is a voluntary controlled Church of England school in East Hull. The last few years have seen rapid change at the school, which was rated the 34th most improved school in the country in 2006.

The school piloted on-site sexual health services as part of the NDC initiative. There were some teething problems finding the right location for the service, but the decision was taken to convert the medical room to the drop-in. This involved taking out the bed, sink and filing cabinet and replacing them with comfy furniture and posters. This room is in the same corridor as a number of other student support services including the chaplaincy.

The school management sees the service as complementary to the school's Christian ethos. Deputy Head Chris Mulqueen explains that "some young people use the on-site clinic and the chaplaincy service to get support on the same issue - this provides choice and creates a blend of traditional and modern approaches - thus contributing to spiritual and personal health".

The school sits in a deprived community - with high rates of unemployment, drug use and teenage pregnancy. Before setting up the service the school carried out a survey of young people's views and this showed that there were barriers to accessing services elsewhere because of lack of time, opportunity, confidence and information. Students come to school everyday - and this familiarity helps removes the barriers for young people. Chris explains that the school has a responsibility to address these needs:  "church-based schools must be conscious of the community in which they exist - they should get local statistics and people's views, see how best the situation can be dealt with and make the case to their governors". His advice is that "you can't hide from the need".

Archbishop Thurstan have taken a pro-active approach on a range of health-related issues and have now achieved National Healthy Schools status. The full-time Every Child Matters Coordinator (ECM) Kath Oliver organises a rolling programme of ECM related training. All staff attend training including learning mentors, teaching assistants and management. A member of the school collective worship group attended the recent STI training. Parents are kept updated about the services on offer through a termly newsletter, which has a regular space for a feature on health.

The schools efforts were rewarded with an Ofsted inspection in 2006 that gave a 'good' for 'personal development and wellbeing' together with improvements in achievement and numbers of students continuing to post-16 learning. The Secondary Inspection for Anglican Schools (SIAS) report in 2007 noted the dramatic improvement across all aspects of the school, commenting that; "spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is acknowledged as a significant contributory factor to the school's continuing success".

For further information contact:
Pat Farley, Specialist Sexual Health Practitioner
Email: pat.farley@hullpct.nhs.uk