This article is reproduced thanks to The Sunday Telegraph and is written by MIRANDA WOOD.
The first health high school, offering Year 7 to 12 students hands-on experience in every aspect of the medical professions, will open in western Sydney in partnership with the state's biggest hospital.
Based on the model of specialist sports, agriculture and performing arts campuses, the proposed school would operate alongside Liverpool Hospital offering a health and wellbeing curriculum to boost the medical workforce.
It would be a first step to pursuing professions such as surgeon, doctor, nurse, physio, dietitian, medical administrator or researcher. Liverpool Girls and Liverpool Boys high schools have been identified as possible sites. Both are situated less than 1km from the hospital, which received $740 million in the state budget to create the Liverpool Innovation Precinct, a world-class health, research and education campus.
The NSW Education Department is also considering health-specialist schools near other major public hospitals, including Westmead. Chief executive of the South Western Sydney Local Health District Amanda Larkin said the school was a “fantastic project”. She said: “You would include in their broad curriculum a health curriculum that gave them the opportunity to have some hands-on experience.
“They can touch and feel exactly what it’s like and it becomes a lot more real for a child when they are a part of that.”
Ms Larkin said the high school would capitalise on the hospital precinct’s education and research facilities, including three universities, TAFE and the Ingham Institute for applied medical research. “You couldn’t ask for a more perfect set up,” she said. “You’ve got this amazing pipeline from school, TAFE, universities and then into health jobs with us.”
A report commissioned by School Infrastructure NSW and the local health district concluded: “Liverpool is uniquely placed to deliver an integrated high school as a lighthouse project for NSW and Australia.”
The healthcare industry is the biggest employer in Australia, with the Liverpool Innovation Precinct expected to double the number of jobs to 30,000 by 2026.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said the new precinct provided an “opportunity” to teach high school students practical skills. “There is clear opportunity for our education investment in Liverpool to align with the expansion of Liverpool Hospital and the growing tertiary education and research facilities nearby,” he said.
Western Sydney Business Chamber executive director David Borger said health high schools made sense. “This could include sharing assets between the schools, universities, the hospital and research entities, and aligning the school curriculum to provide students with practical and relevant experience.”
“This is about building the medical workforce of the future,” he said.
“You want to encourage kids to think about one of the biggest industries in the region, and one way to do that is to connect the school into the health system.”