RGU first university in Scotland to receive UNICEF Gold Award

Friday 14 May 2021

Karen Jarvis - third year midwifery student
RGU becomes fourth university in the UK to receive the Baby Friendly Initiative gold award.

Robert Gordon University (RGU) has become the first university in Scotland to be awarded the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Gold Award for Universities. The accreditation is recognised as a mark of quality in student midwifery and health visiting programmes and helps ensure that students are prepared for practice.

The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative is based on a global accreditation programme designed to support families with infant feeding and developing close, loving relationships with the aim to improve standards of care for infants and families and ensure that all babies get the best possible start in life

Professor Elizabeth Hancock, Vice-Principal for Academic Development and Student Experience and Deputy Principal said: “As one of the leading provider of health professionals to the NHS, we are proud to receive this award from UNICEF, which is a testament to the high quality education provided by RGU. We are committed to supporting the NHS and UNICEF'S UK Baby Friendly Initiative in providing training, developing better policies, and enhancing knowledge and skills across all practitioners. This accreditation would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment  from our staff and students, and I am incredibly proud of their efforts.”

As part of the accreditation led by the School of Nursing Midwifery and Paramedic Practice (SNMP), the UNICEF steering group and a UNICEF lead, RGU appointed two Baby Friendly Guardians, who champion the initiative at RGU at a strategic and senior level.  In addition, RGU's senior leadership team within the SNMP, participated in Baby friendly training, to further develop knowledge on the importance of infant feeding and relationship building between parents and infants as a key public health issue. Professor Susan Dawkes,  Head of SNMP said,   “I provide my full support to the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative at RGU as it ensures students within the School are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively support families with infant feeding and early relationship building and demonstrate our commitment to promoting breastfeeding in our own students and staff. SNMP and RGU are proud to be at the forefront of the sector in providing high quality education and to be the first University in Scotland to be recognised with the UNICEF Gold award  for Baby Friendly Initiatives.”

During the accreditation process, RGU was assessed on a range of criteria such as course documentation, assessment strategies, practical skills reviews and training delivered to staff. Janet Dalzell, UNICEF Professional Lead for Scotland complimented RGU, saying, “RGU has an outstanding approach towards implementing the Baby Friendly Initiative and I highly commend the enthusiasm and commitment towards this programme of work. In particular, the students interviewed demonstrated a compassionate communication style and rigorous understanding of supporting pregnant women and new mothers with breastfeeding and safe and responsive formula feeding fostering  close and loving relationships.”

Baby Friendly Learning Outcomes are embedded through the midwifery and health visiting programmes at RGU. Students gain a comprehensive understanding, knowledge and skills to support infant feeding and relationship building and offer high quality and compassionate support for parents and their infants, ensuring the best start. Practice placements in Baby Friendly services further strengthen student’s knowledge and skills, and support a collaborative approach to facilitating learning

In addition, Baby Friendly learning has been included in modules across  nursing and paramedic practice courses, so that graduates , also have an awareness and understanding of the importance of supporting infant feeding and how close and loving relationships are beneficial to parental and infant mental health and optimal infant development.

RGU has a strong track record of providing high quality health and social care education, with its students and graduates making a significant contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of the local and wider communities. The University’s reputation for addressing skills needs through its student-centred and practice informed learning and teaching provision is reflected in the growing popularity of its healthcare education. In the academic year 2020/21, the School of Nursing Midwifery and Paramedic Practice saw a rise of 56.99% in applications in comparison to the previous academic year. 

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