Health Academy offers amazing opportunities to young people on Fylde coast


Tracy Burrell, Trust Lead of the Health Academy and Assistant Director of Nursing and Quality

A pioneering Health Academy set up by St Mary’s Catholic College and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will offer Fylde coast A level students an incredible opportunity to pursue a career in healthcare.

The initiative, believed to be one of the first of its kind in the North West, also has the potential for the Trust to “grow its own” staff.

In partnership with St Mary’s Catholic College in Blackpool, the Trust is launching the new Health Academy on Monday, January 23.

Young people who are interested in a career in healthcare are welcome to attend the launch event at 6pm at St Mary’s Catholic College on St Walburga’s Road.

Various clinical teams will have information stands demonstrating a huge variety of career opportunities and Marie Thompson, the Trust’s Director of Nursing and Quality, will give a talk.

A level students who join St Mary’s Health Academy will have placements in nursing, medicine, allied health professions, biomedical sciences and radiography.

Tracy Burrell, Trust Lead for the Health Academy and Assistant Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “I think it’s really exciting and a fantastic opportunity for young adults to gain practical experience that will support their A level learning and help their future careers.

“It gives the students a chance to see what they can do in the health service, develop personal skills and hopefully reaffirm their chosen career pathway in the NHS. I wish I’d had an opportunity like this!

Jeremy Mannino, Assistant Head of St Mary’s Catholic College

“St Mary’s Health Academy will give us the opportunity to work across the local community to support our young adults and give them access to potential NHS employment on their doorstep. Hopefully, it will also give the students an allegiance to our Trust in their future careers and give them exposure to many different avenues within the NHS.

“They will get targeted support for their chosen areas and undertake a care certificate qualification which is a recognised qualification in healthcare.

“The skills and attributes the students gain will also assist their university applications and the academy will also be able to identify students who may want follow a NHS career via other pathways such as apprenticeships.

“St Mary’s approached us to see if we’d be interested in setting up the academy as we had worked with the college before on our ‘Youth Health Leaders’ project. The Youth Health Leaders project empowers young people to give out positive health messages to their peers.”

Tracy said the students will do their A level study at St Mary’s Sixth Form College and one day a week during term time they will be on ‘day placement’ within the Trust.

In their second year with the academy, some of the students may also have the opportunity to apply for health care work with the Trust.

Simon Eccles, Head Teacher of St Mary’s, said: “I’m proud of the partnership with the Trust and hugely excited about the wealth of opportunities this offers our sixth formers.

“We are looking forward to welcoming students from all local high schools as well as from St Mary’s to be part of our very first Health Academy.”

Jeremy Mannino, Assistant Head of St Mary’s, said: “St Mary’s Health Academy pathway will enrich the personal skills and attributes of students.

“Meaningful work experience is difficult to find. Our partners at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are offering a rotation of placements that will open doors to future careers and improve lives. I’m thrilled to be part of it.”

Rebecca Jones, Head of Science at the college, said: “Most students know that nurses and doctors work in hospitals but few really have a grasp of the wealth of careers available within the NHS.

“St Mary’s Health Academy will greatly benefit aspiring medics and healthcare practitioners, providing practical and hands-on experience to complement studies in subjects such as Applied Science, Health and Social Care or A level Chemistry and Biology at St Mary’s Sixth Form.”

Iain Phillips, Head of Business, Health and Social Care, Psychology and Sociology at the college, said: “To be honest, I’d like to do my sixth form time again, taking Health Academy as an option!

“The opportunities, within the traditional A level route and the practical work placement will give our sixth formers the very best of both worlds. Why wouldn’t you want to do this!”

Liz Murray, Senior Head of the sixth form at the college, said: “We offer more than 30 courses but are always keen to innovate to offer all Blackpool and Wyre students the very best of what is available nationally after their GCSEs.

“Our Health Academy offers practical work experience, whilst still giving access to the more traditional A levels. Students from all local high schools are warmly invited to apply online via the St Mary’s homepage, following the ‘Sixth Form’ links.

“We are expecting to receive a flurry of additional applications after the Health Academy launch, as it offers something unique. Staff here are excited about the new partnership.”

To be eligible, students must attain a minimum of five GCSE passes at grade C or equivalent (including at least grade 4 in English and Maths). Students will select three subjects for academic study, including at least one of: Health and Social Care, Applied Science, Biology and Chemistry. This is in addition to the Health Academy pathway.

For more information and to register an interest, go to or





Each student will have a rotation of linked placements


This includes adult/general nursing and children’s nursing.  Midwives help mothers-to-be and their families throughout pregnancy, labour and the first days of a newborn baby’s life.


There are more than 60 different specialties doctors can work in, including emergency medicine, general practice, psychiatry, radiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, pathology, anaesthetics, paediatrics and surgery as well as medical specialties including dermatology, gastroenterology, nuclear medicine, rehabilitation and neurology.

AHP (Allied Healthcare Professional)

This includes occupational therapists, orthoptists (visual problems), physiotherapists and podiatrists.

Biomedical Sciences

This service investigates samples of body tissue and fluids to enable doctors to diagnose and plan patients’ treatment.  Clinical scientists working in clinical biochemistry analyse specimens and interpret the results. Those working in microbiology identify bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections to help prevent epidemics and help doctors diagnose and treat their patients.


Diagnostic radiographers carry out the imaging techniques, such as x-rays, to help diagnose a range of conditions. Therapeutic radiographers are responsible for radiation treatment for cancer patients, and for their wellbeing during treatment.

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