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Widening participation

Ensuring the healthcare workforce is representative of the communities it serves.

A culture of equality, inclusion and opportunity are central principles of the NHS Constitution.

By providing access to education, employment and development opportunities for under-represented individuals (and groups), we’re helping people realise their potential and in doing so, reducing cultural, social and economic disadvantage. This is ensuring a talented and diverse workforce, where development and progression is based upon a person’s ability and not their social background or effectiveness of their social networks.

Read more about the Widening Participation programme on our national page. This programme is also closely aligned with the Talent for Care strategy, which you can read more about on our national page. 

Widening Participation is a term consistently used to describe the processes and strategies aimed at those who are under represented or under participating in learning.  These groups are described as ‘those on low incomes, those without qualifications, the unskilled, part-time and temporary workers, older adults, those with literacy, numeracy or learning difficulties, disaffected youth and some minority ethnic groups’ (Tight, 1998).

Widening Participation is about:

  • Fair access to opportunities for learning and training
  • Raising awareness of education and its benefits
  • Raising aspirations
  • Raising achievement.

The Widening Participation Strategy supports organisations in the development of support workers enabling trusts to understand and recognise the supply and demand for this part of the workforce and also the resources available to support its development.
The Widening Participation strategy helps enable organisations to map productivity and justify the resources used to develop this part of the workforce, ensuring value for money and effectiveness of this group of staff.

Pre-employment programmes

In the south west Health Education England is working with a number of pre-employment programmes such as:

  • Project SEARCH
  • Princes Trust
  • Inspiring Futures
  • Brightside Charity

Alongside this work, we have a local 'Get In' group which focusses on the 'Get In' theme of the Talent for Care and also encompasses the Widening Participation Strategy through a range of activities.

  • Work experience programme with schools
  • Integrated apprenticeship scheme - different aspects of healthccare
  • Careers days/fayres
  • Creating pathways to medicine
  • Introducing the Care Academy and Career College
  • Healthcare Experience Programme
  • Provide transportable training sessions
  • Preparation for Work  and Employability Course

National projects within the South West

As part of the Widening Participation Strategy we have commissioned both projects with HEI’s and schools.

In the south West Exeter Medical School is working on improving academic attainment for Year seven. Pupils play the role of a team faced with developing an effective global response to a deadly virus. Longer-term plans are for the equipment to be shared with other schools and other regions will be able to access learning packs and lesson plans.


This Page was last updated on: 20 November 2015

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