A pilot scheme has helped decrease gender stereotypes in nursing and midwifery among school children, a government arms’-length body has claimed.
Health Education England said its Step Into the NHS scheme had inspired children as young as six to consider a career in nursing, as well as challenge misconceptions about healthcare roles.
“A diverse workforce with the right skills will ultimately lead to a better quality of patient care”
The pilot scheme provided a range of education resources to 43 primary schools and helped highlight to children the variety of roles the NHS has to offer.
Over 2,000 pupils aged six to 11 benefitted from the scheme between January and May 2018, which included quizzes and a competition, according to a report on the pilot.
HEE also noted that the pilot scheme involved pupil surveys, as well as teacher evaluations and several focus groups.
Findings from the scheme revealed a 49% increase in the number of participating children who said men could work as a nurse.
In addition, the number of pupils who said men could take up a role as a midwife also rose by 59%, claimed HEE.
Following the success of the pilot, HEE said the initiative was now being rolled out nationally and was open to all primary schools across England who want to take part.
For the past 10 years, the scheme has been implemented in secondary schools.
Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England, said the scheme had helped open children’s eyes to the many careers the NHS has to offer.
“Research shows that dispelling myths and stereotypes of professions from an early age can help children consider a range of career options as they get older and by encouraging children in their early years to start thinking about a career in the NHS we can start to build our future workforce,” he said.
“A diverse workforce with the right skills will ultimately lead to a better quality of patient care,” he added.
HEE said a key element of the scheme was a competition that saw pupils say thank you to the NHS by producing a piece of art to celebrate the NHS 70th birthday this year.
“It was fantastic to see the wide variety of jobs available with the NHS”
The Federation of Greenways in Southend-on-Sea was selected as the winning primary school as part of the pilot.
Joe Clark, from the Federation of Greenways, said: “It was fantastic that our pupils won two prizes through their competition entries – winning the overall and the regional area prizes.
“Our pupils were really engaged with the Step Into the NHS project and it really made them think about their futures,” he said.
He added: “It was fantastic to see the wide variety of jobs available with the NHS, and definitely made our pupils think about roles outside of a doctor or a nurse, with lots of them expressing a real interest in the science side, where they could really visualise themselves in those roles.”