The 'Step into the NHS schools competition' should be part of every NHS organisation's domestic workforce supply strategy. It offers the opportunity to engage their future workforce on the range of career opportunities in the NHS and what they offer as an employer.

Health Education England in Kent, Surrey and Sussex worked with NHS organisations across their region during the 2016/17 competition to increase involvement from local schools.

Sian Sallis, Health and Social Care pre-employment programme co-ordinator, told us how they achieved it.

What were you trying to achieve?

As part of the our strategy to promote NHS careers in the region, we wanted to increase the number of schools participating in the competition. In particular we wanted to promote the programme to state schools and academies where entries had been previously low. This supported other activity we were undertaking with schools such as careers fairs, promoting healthcare science week etc.

What did you do?

We set up a county competition so we could select a winning entry for each of our three counties (Kent, Surrey and Sussex). The prize for each winner was a framed certificate and the opportunity for their class to visit their local hospital. The visit included a variety of activities such as

  • basic life support training,
  • meeting staff
  • finding out about their roles and an opportunity to participate in a simulation activity.

In addition the school received £300 worth of equipment to support the science, public health or PSHE curriculum.

We promoted the competition to all schools across the region and through other organisations such as Education Business Partnerships, County Councils, IAG and Careers Enterprise Networks. In order to support schools run the competition we offered to brief staff wishing to participate and also present the competition to students during their assembly.

step into the nhs winners

What were the results?

There was a real increase in the number schools participating and entries received. There were 21 entries received in 2016 and this increased to 93 in 2017. All of the schools who entered had not previously participated in the competition.

Anything you would do differently?

Most of the competition entries were organised by schools' careers co-ordinators so we would also promote the competition to science and IT staff so that it can be embedded in the curriculum.

Planning for the autumn term is undertaken by schools in the summer term therefore for next year’s competition we will undertake some initial promotion in June and July.

Further information

You can contact Sian on or the Health Careers team on

You can also download our guide for NHS staff on promoting the competition