Case Study

Collaborative partnerships between schools and NHS trusts 

Find out how NHS trusts are successfully collaborating with Windsor Academy Trust to complement how education and healthcare work together.

16 May 2024


Dawn Haywood, CEO of Windsor Academy Trust, and Glen Burley, CEO of South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust, Wye Valley NHS Trust, Worcestershire Acute Hospital NHS Trust and George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust worked together to share cross-sector knowledge. Identifying significant areas of overlap, they began to explore partnerships to drive public benefit. The outcome of these discussions has led to wider collaborative working to support the health and wellbeing of students and raise NHS career awareness.  

Key benefits and outcomes

  • The original collaboration has now grown with Windsor Academy Trust engaging with several NHS Trusts local to its schools. 
  • Primary and secondary school students can learn about clinical and non-clinical NHS careers and experience working life in health and care. 
  • Students are learning about, and in turn, sharing their understanding on a range of topics including mental health, asthma awareness and healthy eating. 

What the organisation faced

When Dawn Haywood and Glen Burley met in late 2022, their discussions initially focused on knowledge sharing in areas like strategy, financial sustainability and governance. They were able to identify significant areas of overlap and discussed partnerships in areas such as preventing health issues in young people, establishing community health provisions on school sites and developing the future workforce. 

Education significantly influences health, and schools possess a unique capacity to shape societal behaviour and choices. To prioritise prevention, it is crucial to establish a gateway connecting NHS trust managing directors with school trust CEOs and headteachers to facilitate collaboration. 

Their discussions underscored that a collaborative approach would yield the most meaningful impact over time.     

What the organisations did

The NHS trust and multi-academy trust initiated efforts to connect local health and education providers. This approach has been successful, with Windsor Academy Trust forging meaningful partnerships with NHS trusts directly serving its school communities, including Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Dudley NHS Trust, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and Stoke and North Staffordshire ICB.   

Windsor Academy Trust’s new free school, Windsor Olympus Academy, is partnering with Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust to establish asthma-friendly environments in schools. Students are being trained as Asthma Champions and educate local primary schools about asthma triggers and treatment.  

The school also hosts NHS allied health professional health fair to support ambitions to diversify the workforce by bringing together various healthcare professionals to inspire students and parents. This effort will be reinforced by the I Can campaign, highlighting the 350 different jobs within the NHS, contributing to workforce development. Furthermore, 50 students visited Birmingham Children’s Hospital to spend the morning touring the wards, meeting staff and learning about the range of different job roles within the NHS.

Subsequently, Windsor Academy Trust has been invited to be part of an initiative that is bringing health professionals and educators from across the city together to begin co-producing a Birmingham NHS Academy. 

Two Windsor Academy Trust primaries are in Blakenall, which has the poorest health in the borough. They are looking to host a new NHS community healthy eating programme from the schools, providing a location for pop up immunisation clinics and supporting an emotional health and wellbeing pilot aimed at primary school aged children.

In Stoke and North Staffordshire, Windsor Academy Trust is working closely with the NHS’s mental health support team to provide mental health education to students, wellbeing workshops for staff and information evenings for parents to take a whole school approach to mental health. They are also partnering with the NHS’s workforce development team to develop a primary school careers pilot, which is being informed through pupil voice. This will then be trialled in the trust’s Stoke primaries before being rolled out to all primaries across the county. 

We are pushing on a open door. We have confidence that together, we can significantly impact our communities. Aligning our efforts will secure the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities while fulfilling our civic duty. - Neil Carr, CEO of Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

Takeaway tips

  • Set clearly defined areas for collaboration. In this instance, the partnership is focused on three core areas, prevention of health issues in young people, community health services on school sites and workforce development.
  • Focus on doing fewer things but do these things well and build from there. Success breeds success.
  • On both sides, commit to building a relationship, agree clear deliverables, communicate openly and be giving of your time. 

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