Taking Pride in School Health Services in Wakefield

Setting up the pilot

Step 1:  The Healthy Schools Development Worker and the Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator wrote and presented a briefing paper to the Chief Executive and Directors of the two local PCTs and the Education Senior Management Team in the Local Authority in 2004. The response was positive and high-level support was secured to pilot a school-based health service in 3 secondary schools.

Step 2:  The Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Strategy and Wakefield Healthy School Programme funded start up costs for the pilot.

Step 3:  A strategic and commissioning group was established with stakeholders across education and health. Their role was to oversee the pilot and guide future developments.

Step 4: The support of the Head teachers in three pilot schools was gained

Step 5: Each school set up an Operational Group with representatives from senior management. The groups assessed need, produced action plans, and carried out the operational detail needed.  The group also looked into the importance of involving pupils at each school in the development of the services being set up.

Step 6: Additional funding was secured from other sources including CAMHS and the Drugs Strategy

Step 7: Each school appointed a school based health service Coordinator. 

The strategic and commissioning group provided a structure to monitor and guide progress across the three pilots, but each operational group had space to tailor the development of the service to the needs and style of each of the three schools.

Cathedral High School
Cathedral High School is the latest school in Wakefield to launch their school-based health service. The launch event in July 2007 was designed to raise awareness about the service with students, parents and the wider community. School review day was chosen for the event as parents come into school with their children on this day. The day was organised as follows:

- Pictures of the health centre were shown on the plasma screen
- The post-16 performing arts students performed an original piece on the theme of HIV/AIDS
- Agencies delivering services in the school set up information stalls in the dining hall
- The event was attended by governors and local health professionals and local press were invited

Before the centre opened, all Year 7 and Year 10 students completed a health needs assessment, which was carried out by the school nurse. This identified a range of concerns including mental health, sexual health and substance misuse. Other agencies also contributed to the assessment of health and support needs including the Connexions Personal Adviser and the Manager of the school's Student Centre. A growing range of specialist providers now run drop-in sessions from the health centre offering one-to-one support.

Group work sessions are also on offer, enabling young people to address issues that are of particular concern or interest to them in a non-formal environment.  Smoking cessation and Barnados young carer's group have been run in this way. A group work session on sexual health is planned for the future.

Airedale High School
POD 4U is the name given to the school-based health service at Airedale High School. Staff and students have a sense of pride in the service. Yvette Cooper, MP attended the opening of the centre in 2006. The Head sees the service as an important feature of the school and regularly brings visitors to see POD 4U.

Young people first find out about the pod on their transition visit to the High School when they are still in Year 6. Right from the start, Year 7 pupils can volunteer as peer mentors. Following a 2-day training programme they proudly wear a badge to identify themselves to other students and encourage their peers to visit the POD if they need further help.

Castleford High School
The Step-in centre at Castleford High School offers a service valued by staff and pupils. Before the centre opened the school nurse had a room at the back of a classroom. This made it awkward for young people to access. A suitable room was identified to be converted - and was made to feel less clinical, with leaflets to pick up and comfy chairs.  Now the school nurse, 1st Aider and Connexions Advisor are all based in the Step-in centre. It is much easier for young people to access and numbers using the service have increased.

The service is complemented by the PSHE programme. All tutors have received training from the PSHE Coordinator and school nurse and deliver 1 hour a week to their form group.  The links between sex and alcohol are explored as part of PSHE, and the school nurse does a session on contraception. Small groups of students identified to be at risk are also offered intensive SRE.

Learning and future developments

It is hoped that school-based health services can be rolled out to all secondary schools in Wakefield. earning from the pilot phase suggests:
- Exploration of the possibility of links to GP's surgeries and services
- Linking all three service coordinators in the pilot schools and supporting their training and development
- The development of the peer mentoring initiative and evaluation of its impact on the success of the service
- Supporting the services to become self-sustaining in terms of funding

Contact email:  teenage.pregnancy@wdpct.nhs.uk