You might be surprised to discover a schoolroom at our children’s hospice. Here, every day, we have a teaching assistant to help our children and their siblings keep up with their schoolwork during their respite stays. Maintaining academic progress can be difficult when one feels poorly, but our teaching assistant Louise is here to help the children to be able to return to school with as little stress as possible.
Creating fun school memories for Alexanda and other children
There are a variety of children who stay at the hospice and Alexanda from Northampton is a regular visitor. During visits, which often take place over term-time, he may miss vital days at school but thanks to our hospice school he needn’t worry about falling behind on any work. When he is staying with us he is always keen to practise his music skills, but will also enjoy other activities including art, cookery and personal learning.
During a recent stay, Alexanda made a pretend music album, complete with posters, merchandise and concert. He played his own song on the piano and sung along and even got members of the care team to help with his backing track on the drums.
Due to the flexibility and one-to-one care we can offer, our teaching assistant can go to the children wherever they are in the hospice. So schoolwork can be done in the schoolroom, in their bedroom or even sometimes in the therapy pool, as required. It makes a real difference to the children who visit the hospice and they always look forward to their next visit. School also helps them to have a continued sense of normality and can provide a distraction which can take their mind off health issues.
How we support education with tech equipment
Off the main corridor of the hospice, you will find our school room, suitable for children aged 5-18. It is packed full of educational tools and items, many of which have been donated by loyal supporters. Some of the resources we have include an illuminated dry erase board, a variety of sensory toys including UV lights and even Bag Books.
Dotted across the hospice we also have other items to assist with education, such as the Eye Gaze, which is a computer programme which is activated by the eyes, Logic Pro software for editing music, so the children can make their own music albums and also iPad’s which can be used with educational apps.
Our hospice schoolroom
The schoolroom is where you will find our Louise, a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) who came to work with us in 2017. Louise teaches at the hospice as part of the Oxfordshire Hospital School. After she did her initial training she worked in primary schools and then at Frank Wise School in Banbury for special needs, which is where she developed her skills in special needs education.
‘It is interesting and crazy to teach a range of children, each day is different and whilst I have a general plan of how the school week will be, I work closely with the schools of the children who come here to achieve each child’s targets.’ Louise, higher level teaching assistant.
Louise is able to assist with the education of a range of children, of differing ages and abilities. However, where she doesn’t have the skillset, for example with supporting older children, she will speak to their regular schools or can utilise the expertise of colleagues and resources from the Oxfordshire Hospital School in order to support each individual appropriately with their on-going education.
A typical day at hospice school
When we caught up with teaching assistant Louise, she told us about what a typical school week looks like. Whilst teaching usually takes place from Tuesday to Thursday, there are also other tasks for her to complete to ensure she delivers within the curriculum set by the Oxfordshire Hospital School.
- Monday – Planning day for Louise: checking who is coming in to the hospice and talking to the children’s regular schools to see what she needs to plan for the week.
From Tuesday to Thursday she can be found supporting a child’s education, with the morning session made up of a workshop and the afternoon spent with personalised learning with the child.
- Tuesday – The workshop topic is ‘All about me and my environment’ which is set around the PSHE curriculum (Personal, social, health and economic).
- Wednesday – Food technology workshop – this is Louise’s favourite workshop as it is sensory and children of all ages and abilities can join in and can also include siblings and recently they made pizza.
- Thursday – Music lessons – often there is a visiting music teacher who will play and sing well-known children’s songs, whilst giving the children the chance to sing along with her and play instruments.
Louise told us that is extremely rewarding to see the children discover that the school is here and that they can have one-to-one learning whilst they are staying. They feel reassured to know they have support to keep up with their schoolwork so that when they go back to their usual school, they are not left behind.
You can help us provide in-hospice education to our children
Our special school helps the children who come to the hospice, and their siblings, with their on-going education whilst they’re staying with us, 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 schoolwork, so that when they go back to school they continue to feel included and up to date.