In September 2007, University Hospitals Bristol foundation trust launched the ambassadors network to support the delivery of the trust's schools liaison programme.

The network's aims are linked closely to the trust's recruitment and retention strategy and corporate social responsibility work plan, which is to:

  • recruit more local young people into the trust;

  • support schools and colleges in improving educational attainment though the provision of structured and relevant work-related learning.

The network has around 100 members who work with other organisations to ensure the delivery of five key components of the schools liaison programme:

  • work experience;

  • careers advice and information;

  • teachers' professional development;

  • curriculum-linked activities;

  • business and education links through sustainable partnerships.

Working with colleges

The BTEC National Diploma in Health and Social Care course focuses on a broad range of sectors. Colleges are encouraged to provide individually tailored schemes of work to meet local needs and accommodate students' learning styles.

Forging links with University Hospitals Bristol's schools liaison programme allows colleges offering the course to benefit from local expertise and the support of the ambassador scheme. Healthcare professionals from the trust and health and social care teachers at the colleges are paired. They then develop their own preferred model of working together to develop and deliver the curriculum.

This offers a development opportunity for the teachers, helps to clarify desired learning outcomes and ensures the curriculum is as work-related as possible. Students are engaged and involved throughout the process.

In evaluation, students often say they feel "emotionally challenged" by the activities but that they give them a wider understanding of the complexity of healthcare issues.