Select Page

Did you know that we have a school at Helen & Douglas House? Some of you might as we did an update a few years ago on our blog. If you missed that you can check it out here. For our latest update on our hospice school, we spoke to teacher Maria. She told us that school is back, after a Christmas break, and spoke about what being a teacher at Helen & Douglas House is like for her.

Qualified teacher Maria, from Headington, has been working for Oxfordshire Hospital Schools for 20 years. She teaches children in their homes, in hospitals and in children’s hospices, like Helen & Douglas House. We have been lucky enough to have Maria teach at Helen & Douglas House for around eight years.

Teaching at the hospice

Maria comes to teach at Helen & Douglas every Wednesday and Thursday. She teaches the children with life-shortening conditions who are staying at the hospice for supportive stays. She might also teach siblings who may be staying with us because their brother, or sister, is having end-of-life care. Here is a short video of Maria and Nathan singing (and playing) ‘I am the Music Man’ – WATCH NOW:


Maria told us ‘I feel very at home at Helen & Douglas House. Everyone is so friendly and nurturing. My passion is working with SEN children which is children with special educational needs. These include some of the children who come to the hospice, as well as those who cannot speak and are non-verbal. I am there to help them find other ways to express themselves.’

‘Many people think children’s hospices are sad places. But, most of the time they are bright, noisy, vibrant places like Nathan demonstrated earlier today when he was banging the drum!’

Maria recently taught Nathan, aged 10, from Banbury. He has Prader-Willi syndrome which causes low muscle tone and severe balance issues. Together they had great fun baking flapjacks, which Nathan packaged up in a nice box to give to his mum as a present when he went home. They also sang ‘I am the music man’ which Nathan enjoyed whilst playing the piano and drum.

A typical day of teaching at the hospice


Maria the teacher with Nathan

On a typical day, Maria will start with one of our favourite activities, food technology, and bake delicious goodies such as flapjacks. Then, she may be teaching music or arts and crafts in small groups. Later on, in the afternoon, she will then do personalised learning with the children that are staying. Before they arrive she liaises with their home school and asks to see their education plan and targets. This way she can see what they are working towards and set tasks to help them reach their goals.

Mandy Watts, Head of Care at Helen & Douglas House, told us ‘The children look forward to Maria coming into the hospice and really enjoy their time with her. It’s great that they have this learning support so they can keep up to date with their schoolwork.’

When a child is unwell and has to miss school this can sometimes be distressing for them and could affect their health. We ensure that a child can continue their education with our in-house teachers. We can also help children who may be receiving care at home. We do this through a team of teacher volunteers who help us provide learning support for the children in their homes.

Nathan, and all the children who visit and rely on care from Helen & Douglas House, would like to say thank you to Maria, and the other teachers, for helping them with their education.

The hospice school is full of learning tools

Why hospice school is important

Our hospice school is there to help children who rely on our care. Together with their siblings, we can make sure there is minimal disruption to their education whilst we are caring for them, regardless of any physical challenges or health issues. Many of the children who come here spend a lot of time in and out of the hospital and are quite anxious not to fall behind on schoolwork. It is important for them to be able to continue their school work. This is so that when they go back to school they continue to feel included and up-to-date.

A donation of £20 could help to fund craft materials that our teacher may use during a lesson. Your donation, however large or small, will help us continue to care for children and their families and ensure they are given access to the materials and facilities they need.