Primary Practice is a way to expose children to their first taste of medical and healthcare education

Last week we celebrated the Primary Practice graduation of ten classes of primary school students from across the boroughs of Wandsworth and Merton. The Primary Practice initiative was set up in 2007 by our widening participation team and our student ambassadors. Primary Practice provides an after-school club for primary school students in Year 5 and Year 6 to teach them more about medicine and healthcare.

Merton Abbey 2

Across the weeks the students are taught a variety of clinical skills by their student ambassador mentors. The skills include; Body Outlining, Peak flow, Sign Language, basic first aid, how to use stethoscopes and taught skills about skeletons and reflexes and has been many of the student’s first experience of biology, medicine and healthcare education. At the end of the six weeks the students are invited into St George’s so that they are able to practice their skills in our clinical skills training labs and given a real insight into life in St George’s.

Andrew Knox, deputy head from Merton Abbey School said that the initiative has been “Brilliant for widening aspirations of the students, and has been the first time students have started thinking about what they would like to do when they’ve finished school"

“The initiative has also been great, the children have learned a lot of basic first aid skills that they wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. The training has also built on the children’s existing skill-set and knowledge and will be extremely helpful for our biology lessons”

“The best part about the initiative is the relationships our students form with their mentors, they have lots of fun together and aspire to be just like the students. It’s been amazing listening to how many of our pupils are now considering a career in medicine, which is something they may not have considered otherwise”

The graduations were a perfect example of the pupil’s relationships with their mentors. With one student commenting,

“I always wanted to be a footballer until I met our mentors and now I want to be a doctor just like them”

One girl shared her touching story of being able to apply the British Sign Language skills that she learned during her time with primary practice.

“My favourite part of Primary Practice was when we were taught sign language, because when I got home I gave my dad the sign language worksheet and was able to help him communicate with his deaf colleague with sign language for the first time.”
Our widening participation team at St George’s also spoke to us about the initiative.

“Primary Practice is a way to expose children to their first taste of medical and healthcare education, and also a way to alleviate anxiety about hospital. St George’s Hospital is well known within London and is a central part of the surrounding communities, so by inviting students in they know who we are and what we do.”

“I think our favourite part of the initiative is seeing the relationships formed between our student ambassadors and the children, and how inspired they have been by their mentors.”
Please visit our widening participation pages to find out more about the initiative and how you can get involved.