Hospital School - A Year in the Life

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Hospital School A Year in the Life Martin Dixon



Hospital School A Year in the Life


Martin Dixon

Hospital School A Year in the Life


Frontispiece Helen working with a student on PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) Published by Chelsea Community Hospital School 369 Fulham Road London SW10 9NH Copyright Š Chelsea Community Hospital School 2012 Photographs Š Martin Dixon Printed in UK by Shore Books and Design All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by no means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. 2nd edition ISBN 978-0-9571812-0-5


Preface - Martin Dixon Foreword - Andrew Bush Introduction - Janette Steel My Time at the Hospital School - Asha Kotechka

6 7 8 9

Chelsea Community Hospital School Post 16 Students Meetings with Past Students International Projects The Opening of Our New School Art Dance Science Isolation Horseriding Exams Mudlarking on the Thames Foreshore Music with Wigmore Hall Cookery A Trip to the Science Museum Sports and Games Pottery The Staff Team The Marvellous Medicine Ball

10 22 28 40 48 60 72 80 86 90 100 106 112 124 130 134 140 146 168

Supporting the School Acknowledgements

172 173


Preface My first encounter with childhood illness was at the age of five, when my younger sister died of leukaemia. Times have changed and survival rates for childhood leukaemia have risen from around 14% to 50%. Life surprises me with its twists and turns; I have since worked in hospitals as an engineer, a teacher and now a photographer. For the last 15 years I have had the privilege of teaching music to children and young people at the Chelsea Community Hospital School. One of the rewards of teaching is discovering the reciprocal nature of the relationship and the unexpected learning from our students. This engagement continues to fuel my work both as a musician and photographer. Photographing the Hospital School over a year the project has unfolded slowly, the images and engagements with the subjects coalescing and evolving their own narratives, as if the camera’s selective frame suggests its own story, one that incorporates both the everyday and the sublime. Inevitably I can see all the things left out, all the other stories that might have been told, but here it is – a story of the surprising range of activities that happen day in day out at the Hospital School, the dedication of those that work there, and the extraordinary resilience of the children, young people and their families. I would like to thank all the students and staff at the Hospital School who worked with me on this project, and to dedicate it to the memory of my little sister, Annette. Martin Dixon - Photographer & Music Teacher


Foreword School is an important part of every child’s life. If a child has a one-off acute illness, such as appendicitis, and misses a couple of weeks off school, this is sad but not a tragedy; the child can soon catch up. However, for a child with a chronic illness, with repeated prolonged admissions to hospital, really pro-active steps must be taken to ensure that the child does not drop further and further behind, maybe in the end giving up in despair – and remember, it is just this group of children who will likely have to live by their brains, because manual jobs may be beyond them. This book celebrates how superbly well the Hospital School has risen to these challenges. The teachers need to be doubly qualified. They need to be excellent teachers, as a group doing everything from teaching A-level physics to helping a toddler daubing paint on paper. They have to be able to support each child, under highly abnormal circumstances, in keeping up with their normal peers. But the teaching team also needs to understand the health issues; they have to interpret these to the local school, and maintain education even when the child is isolated because of infection. They need to work closely with the local school to ensure work is being sent in, and the child is keeping up. The teachers are also a mandatory part of the multi-disciplinary team; their insights into the problems that may be developing at the local school are invaluable, their role in alerting the wider team that school is not going well, and actions need to be taken, is vital.

Professors are notorious for not really knowing what is really going on – it takes those at the coalface to ensure that vital information is gleaned and not overlooked. This book shows how fantastic the teachers are in fulfilling this role. They have long used the internet to help the child isolated in hospital keep in touch with their school and their peers back home. But they do far more than that; there is a huge range of activities for the children to enjoy – exercise workouts and horse riding to name but two. The school artwork is breathtaking – they have exhibited at the College of Physicians, and around Europe. Only the most philistine visitor could pass the school without being awe-struck. The teachers try to make being in hospital a special time – and how well they succeed. Only the best will do for the children – and what a galaxy of different talents has been recruited to support them. But does it actually matter? Surely medicine and surgery is what actually makes the difference? Of course excellence in both is essential, but anyone who thinks that is the end of the story misses the vital dimension of holistic care, of wholeness; we all need joy in our lives – how much more do our hospitalised children! And while we are all hurtling around trying to fulfil endless and ever-changing directives from Apparatchiks, each one less evidence-based and more intrusive than the one that went before, the unsung heroes of the school carry on faithfully doing what really matters to those whom the hospital is actually all about, our precious children. Salut! Andrew Bush MD FRCP FRCPCH Professor of Paediatric Respirology Imperial College & Royal Brompton Hospital


Introduction Chelsea Community Hospital School provides education, therapy and an enriched arts programme at four hospitals in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and in Westminster. We work at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, the Royal Brompton Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and Collingham Child & Family Centre. We also work with young people in their homes if they are unable to attend school due to a medical or mental health problem. Some of our students have conditions that are progressive. This means that they may spend more time in hospital as they get older with a likelihood that their education will be delayed because of illness. Our school programme therefore embraces the 16 to 25 year old age group. We are a school that stays open for 50 weeks a year working with pupils throughout the year, over and above the term times when there is statutory provision for 4 to 16 year olds. Alongside early years, primary and special needs teachers, we also have a team of subject specialist key stage 3 & 4 teachers who ensure our students are well prepared for their exams. Our school also has learning mentors, an exam officer and a careers counsellor. This team works with the student, family and the home school to ensure their pathways to the future are secure despite missing school.


Our Art and Drama therapists support those young people who have had difficulties in attending school or who are coming to terms with a change in their lives brought about by a medical condition. This is essential, as 60% of students who have an acute or chronic medical condition report having been bullied. Our creative arts team works throughout the year and includes an Artist in Residence, a musician, a potter, a photographer, a Poet in Residence and a storyteller. They encourage creativity and diverse opportunities for self-expression, they reassure and motivate as ..... ‘Getting together on an arts project makes you feel connected’ ‘It gives me purpose and dignity to my life’ ‘It is a reason to get up in the morning’ And that is what we all need. My reason to get up in the morning is very clearly seen in Martin’s insightful photographs. ‘Hospital School - A Year in the Life’ shows many remarkable journeys recorded ‘through a lens lightly’. Janette Steel - Principal

My Time at the Hospital School When I was very young, too young really to attend school, I used to beg my way into the Rose Ward classroom every day I could. To me the classroom was a world of exciting activities designed to keep boredom at bay whilst in hospital. Perhaps it was a bit uncool to want to go to school, but it offered me so many things to do, and I loved talking to the teachers who treated me with great affection and probably more maturely than my inquisitive little self deserved, which I naturally loved! Even as I became older, the school never lost its appeal and we were always visited by a teacher each morning, so even if it wasn‘t our turn to attend the classroom on the rota, we were offered activities and support at our bedside. The only times I remember even remotely not enjoying something to do with the hospital school, was these early morning visits if I was attempting to have a lazy morning in bed (trying to catch up on the sleep you lose to the sounds of hospital night-time activity!). We were lucky enough to have frequent visitors who were experts in their respective fields. One of these was a storyteller who used to bring props and puppets to draw us into the fantastical world of his creative mind, creating brilliantly interactive and entertaining experiences which provided me with an escape outlet on some very difficult and stressful days as I was drawn into his animated worlds (and returned to my bedside in a distinctly better mood than I had left it in earlier in the day, much to the relief of my long-suffering mother!).

We also had the opportunity to work with different members of the London Symphony Orchestra, who spent the day with us on several occasions and provided hugely entertaining and interesting sessions whenever they came. A particular inspiration to me was an artist I spent a lot of time with who taught me an enormous amount – not only about art, but also about life – and always encouraged me to achieve more than I thought I was capable of. Looking back I remember only good times in association with the Rose Ward school room over the twelve or so years that I intermittently attended it during my frequent hospital stays. Throughout this time span, I was witness to a complete change of location of the school room, several large scale renovations and lots of different staff! One thing all the staff had in common though, was their willingness to go the extra mile for us and the support and encouragement we received, whether it was during exam/revision periods or emotionally difficult times. I honestly couldn’t have asked for more from them. Since transitioning to the adult services we’re still offered a large amount of support in several different areas, including careers advice, art and design projects and materials, or just someone to hang out with over a coffee or to take us on a trip out of the enclosed walls of the hospital. Over the years I have kept in contact with several of the long-term teachers who taught at the school while I was still in paediatrics and am now lucky enough to consider them not just as my old teachers, but as friends too. Asha Kotechka - Post 16 Student


Chelsea Community Hospital School


A stay in hospital can be an unsettling change to the everyday rhythms of our lives. For a child or young person the normal patterns of getting up and going off to school or being with friends and family have shifted – things are not as they usually are. This is the situation for the 14% of school age children and young people with a medical condition who spend time in hospital. There is now a break in the routines of everyday life. Between the ages of 4 and 16 we go to school to get an education and that includes making friends, being part of a team and sharing ideas. The Hospital School can act as a stepping-stone for children and young people during their time in hospital providing not only a diversion from medical interventions, but also a lively, welcoming place where the familiar patterns and experiences of life can continue and where students can make friends, learn new things and achieve academically. Returning to school after a period in hospital means having to pick up the threads of learning and of friendships so the hospital school provides links with regular school, enabling students to carry on with their own schoolwork and stay in contact with friends. Marie - Assistant Head 11










Pips teaches geography to the primary students at St Mary’s Hospital.

Being attached to monitors or having regular medical tests is no barrier to coming to school.

Miranda teaches maths.

Students trace the number 8 as part of their yoga practice.

Steve runs a video conferencing link up between the hospital schoolrooms.

The drama of uncovering a Renaissance painting with Clare from the National Gallery.

In the sensory room pupils experience a range of stimuli either as part of their learning or for relaxation.

Faisal brings a student to school from the hospital ward.


Post 16 Students


Around the age of 16 pupils at the Royal Brompton Hospital transition from the paediatric medical team on Rose Ward to the adult team on Foulis Ward for their care. The Hospital School continues to be a presence here. Many of the young adults on Foulis Ward continue with their studies and we are able to provide educational support for them during their admissions to hospital. For those young adults who are no longer in education we offer information about courses, alternative pathways for post 16 education, advice on volunteering opportunities and possible entitlements. We also work with young adults to help initiate and develop their own projects. Marie - Assistant Head 23



The Foulis Ward Art Project on display in the stairwell.

Bela helps a student with her college work.

Fred visits a new patient and explains what the school can offer.

Ben works with a student exploring career choices.

Meetings with Past Students


Every year the Hospital School teaches over 2000 children and young people – some for a day, some for a week or more and others who, on repeat admissions, will return throughout their entire school lives. Looking back on events can give us a broader perspective. I met with five young people, mostly now in their early twenties, all of whom had spent time at the Hospital School in the past. I was interested to see how, with the benefit of hindsight, they remembered their time at the Hospital School, and if they had any advice they could pass on to younger students going through a similar experience. We recorded interviews and worked together to produce five portraits. Martin - Photographer & Music Teacher 29


“Before, my image of the Hospital School was of a clinical and restrictive place but it was quite the opposite – I was given a lot of freedom to explore my interests and I learnt a lot, not only academically but also through meeting other students from all sorts of backgrounds, seeing them develop, become happier and gain confidence and able to deal with whatever their issues might have been, and that was something I was able to do as well. My advice? – It’s a great opportunity to get back on track, don’t hesitate to speak to the team and stay focused!” Claude 31


“Many people don’t know about hospital schools and even on my teacher training course there are people who don’t know about them, but I do know people who have been to hospitals with no school and if their mainstream school fails to support them adequately it can be very hard. I remember it being a good experience, a supportive and friendly environment. My advice? – You’re in safe hands; you’ll get lots of help there, take advantage of it! I am coming back to volunteer and my aim is to teach in a hospital school when I qualify.” Karima 33


“The change from primary to secondary school can be so hard; the feeling that you have to fit in and be regulated. Schools want results; they have such large numbers and are reluctant to help if you consume a lot of their time. I remember being scared but I felt safe at the Hospital School, and that was the first change. I hadn’t been in contact with education for about a year and I built up by coming to the Hospital School for an hour a day; it was a slow process. In drama with Mary we filled up an invisible suitcase with things we were scared of and then threw it into the invisible ocean, and I still do that if I wake up feeling insecure or anxious. I can sit here at this stage now and not feel resentful or angry, now I’m at the end of my degree and ready to be a fully-fledged adult. My advice? – You don’t have to feel afraid or ashamed to feel something, all emotion is valid, and yes, there has to be a resolve and maybe that is also about knowing why you feel something. Something I learnt from Janette was ‘perspective is the key to knowledge’.” Louise



“I was excluded from school and I was absolutely terrified of what was next, but once I arrived at the Hospital School it was fantastic – I loved it! You do hear of people with problems not getting support but I was lucky that I did, mainly because of Janette, the Head Teacher – she wouldn’t let it lie. If I’d been excluded from school and waiting for a place at a special school there would have been no one fighting my corner and that was the important thing, I had Janette to really make sure I went to the right place. I guess the Hospital School is the lucky bit in the puzzle for me and if I hadn’t ended up there, things could have been very different.” Lloyd 37


“I was very shy when I started off in the primary class but once I got to know people my confidence just built. When you’re in hospital you want to be busy, to take your mind off it, so you just crack on with your schoolwork. Little things cheer you up, like the guy (Giles) who comes round and tells stories. If you can’t go to the schoolroom they bring you a laptop so you can still do your work – you won’t get bored! My main school always has a meeting with me when I get back and I try and catch up. It’s hard if you’ve missed lessons because I feel that I need to be there to learn and understand. My advice? – Just try not to think about it – just get on with your work and do the best you can, that’s all you can do and anyone can be proud of that. I was in hospital last year for 6 weeks and when I came out I worked till 1 o’clock in the morning to catch up on the work just to get it done. I just do what’s best for me and my future with determination, so try your best too – it seems to work for me!” Danny 39

International Projects


'Everyone here tells me about education but in an amazing way'

Our school has long believed that learning in an international context is an essential part of a broad general education that will enable our students to develop an awareness of global issues and events. Learning about other people and places through direct project work and face to face communication with pupils in different countries helps them to develop the skills and confidence to be effective contributors in an increasingly global society. In 2010 we became the first Hospital School to receive the International Award from the British Council. In particular our recent work has focused on sharing ideas about sustainability between five schools in Europe and one in the Middle East. Teachers and students now regularly talk to colleagues and students in partner schools. This collaboration is hugely rewarding for all of us and has helped build excellent new working relationships and usher our students into a much wider world than might be presumed possible for children who suffer from medical and mental health problems. Jo - Assistant Head 41




Leo, our school ambassador, receives the International School Award on behalf of the school from John Rolfe of the British Council.

During a training day teachers video conference with our colleague Mohammed in Gaza.

Mohammed visits us in London and works with a student.

Finnish teachers share a lesson with us investigating rocks and minerals.


The Opening of Our New School


'I never felt bored in hospital because of this wonderful school'

We welcomed many distinguished guests to our official opening, including governors of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, Hospital School governors, Sir Merrick Cockell, volunteers from our charity, Friends of Chelsea Hospital School, parents and, of course, our staff and students. Many thanks to everyone who participated. Special thanks go to Professor Sir Christopher Edwards, Chair of Chelsea & Westminster Trust, who officially opened the new school helped by our students Poppy and Zena. Sir Christopher commended the school for the part that we had played in the bid for the expansion of the paediatric wards in the West London Review. He spoke about the importance of a holistic approach at Chelsea & Westminster and the central place education has in the lives of children and young people, especially mentioning Kieran, a young boy who had been confined to bed since Christmas, who had walked into the primary class and had shown him how he was learning using the white board. Sir Christopher also talked about the many young people from the Facing the World charity who arrive from countries such as Vietnam, Fiji, Africa and South America to have complex facial surgery, often staying for many months or even years, and the necessity for education during this long process.

Many thanks also to the ‘listening architects’ Studio 4, but most of all to Shaun our Artist in Residence who put so much work into the overall design of the school, including our famous gold wall, and to Chris, whose knowledge and understanding of IT knows no bounds. Many thanks also to Leo, our student ambassador, who not only sat on the architects committee giving the student voice to designing the school, but also gave an excellent speech. Leo talked about his involvement in the design of the school, resulting in a space that is a sophisticated and attractive learning centre with a ‘chill out room’. He also spoke of the importance of the international dimension, the enriched learning environment with young people from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds. He spoke of the Hospital School as an extension of his family where he had experienced excellent teaching during his 13 years of constant admissions to hospital. We look forward to welcoming many more students as the paediatrics department expands over the next few years. Janette - Principal 49









Our New School We are delighted with our new Hospital School at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital right in the middle of the paediatric wards – a ‘living brain’ keeping education at the centre whilst children and young people are in hospital. A team of pupils and staff worked together to design this new multifunctional space which includes classrooms, an office, kitchen area, bathroom and multi-sensory room. This beautiful space offers something for every type of learner, for group and private study as well as performance and visual arts. There is also a dedicated place for relaxation. Janette - Principal 58

Work in progress on the secondary classroom at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.

Caught here together, Sir Merrick Cockell and Professor Sir Christopher Edwards, both important supporters of our school.

The new secondary classroom at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.

Phillip Wells (Poet in Residence) and Annie Chance (school governor and ex-teacher) sharing a joke.

Students made giant scissors for the ritual opening. Professor Sir Christopher Edwards does the honours!

Paul (teacher) and a former pupil have time to catch up.

Janette (Principal) and a young pupil are the first to sample the cake.

Our nursing colleagues, Marie, Stephanie and Gareth are part of the celebrations.




'It is better than normal school, it is more interactive and fun'

Working across all four hospital sites I am fortunate enough to work with an extremely diverse group of young people. These young people face a wide range of different challenges and for children in hospital the added pressures of health concerns and the unfamiliar can add to their anxieties. Art can be different things to different people: a form of distraction, a therapeutic tool, an exam subject, a hobby. For the young people at the hospital school being able to access and enjoy art, despite the challenges they face, can be immensely beneficial. As with all the school staff I aim to bring positivity and normality to a young person’s stay in hospital. As Artist in Residence, my role is to act as a catalyst for the students’ ideas, using my skills and expertise to enable young people to engage with art and discover a sense of achievement through their art work. When faced with a blank piece of paper and a pencil, creating art often becomes an arduous task for even the most accomplished artist.

Tapping into a point of interest, engaging students in a project or simply motivating and supporting are ways of breaking down initial barriers and encouraging enthusiasm. Establishing positive relationships with students and creating a relaxed environment in the classrooms means that young people can enjoy the process of generating art. Art can be a form of expression and self-expression, an opportunity for young people to explore and discuss concepts, experiment with materials and discover new skills and techniques without limits or rules. Students at the Hospital School visit galleries and museums, take part in collaborative projects and competitions and work with a range of artists. Engaging with art and producing work they feel proud of allows young people to feel successful and facilitating that success is an ever-changing and constantly growing project. Shaun - Artist in Residence 61









Students and staff at the completion of a project. 70

Painted portraits exploring the theme of identity.

Viyki from the National Gallery helps a student create a futuristic model of a building.

Students created this sculpture called ‘Alone’. They used plaster on their own limbs to create the body and then covered it in words that they felt related to being bullied.

Clem helps a student fix the final piece onto his architectural model.

A portrait painting of artist Frederic Leighton and its Baroque-inspired frame created by the students.

Shaun helps a student with the construction of a model Eiffel Tower.

A student works on a collaborative textile hanging entitled ‘Risky World’.

A student creates a road as part of an aerial map of an imaginary city.




'It is fun - yes!'

Together with Akademi and Hospital Arts we ran a ‘Bronze Dance Arts Award’ designed to be accessible for all students. Students attended weekly dance sessions with choreographer Ash Mukherji and costume making sessions with a professional milliner and worked together to produce a portfolio of evidence. It was a great success and the moderator’s recommendations are that we follow on with Silver and Gold Awards. Jay - Learning Mentor 73






Each week students learnt new dance routines.

Working with choreographer Ash Mukherji.

Students modelling hats designed with a professional milliner.

Students model their costumes.




'My favourite subject is science, it is fun and I learnt a lot'

A lot of people think that without a dedicated laboratory space it must be quite hard to carry out practical science in the Hospital School environment. As you can see, there are definitely ways around this. The task of teaching science within the National Curriculum – without it being incredibly dry or just plain boring – isn’t without its challenges... but that’s half the fun! Thinking up creative ways to explain scientific ideas can be just as exciting as seeing the children doing a practical in a hospital environment. Paul - Secondary Teacher 81




Students build cars and test them on a perspex slope.

Creating a water fountain using air pressure.

Sucking an egg into a bottle.




Imagine walking into a small room – in that room is a fridge, a small table, an en suite bathroom and two beds. This will be your world for the next six weeks. The windows are firmly shut and the door alarmed to ensure the air in the room remains free from germs; your world will be one dominated by medical procedures and medical staff. Visits from the outside are strictly limited; you may have one or two family members sharing your day to day care but there will be no personal contact with your siblings or friends. The nearest comparable experience is imprisonment, but even then you are entitled to visiting rights. For the many children and young people undergoing a stem cell transplant at St Mary’s Hospital the challenge is to find a way out of the isolation without leaving the physical space. Knowing that you will have a teacher working with you for at least an hour each day can help.

The familiar world of school is brought in with books, vocabulary, computers and messages from form tutors and friends back in school. New experiences such as video conferencing link ups with the hospital classroom or maybe your own school brings the outside world in. You may finally crack the secret of long multiplication or chemical bonding. Without fear of embarrassment you may cry as you encounter the ultimate sacrifice in ‘Of Mice and Men’. It is a time and space ripe for asking lots of questions. School in isolation is different but it can be surprisingly liberating at a time of major constraint. The small room can confine you physically but your mind can escape the four walls. The bravery and emotional resilience shown by the children and young people undergoing this experience is, in a word, humbling. Maria - Assistant Head 87

When people come to my room it doesn’t feel like my room anymore, they bring the outside world in. Celina


Don’t just watch TV all day, try out the school and do something different, it makes you forget about everything else. Celina




'The school is really good and I learnt new things'

Every week six children from the Collingham Centre go horse riding at Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. For a six week block they have riding lessons and learn about stable management. It is good exercise, improves their self confidence and teaches them new practical skills. In short, a weekly boost for mind, body and spirit! Kim - Secondary Teacher 91










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'The teachers are superb; they always help me, not just in education but at exam time as well'

There’s no escaping exams. In fact many of our pupils in the Hospital School wouldn’t really want to. After all they have probably been working towards these exams for some time, and now suddenly there’s a possibility that all that effort may have to be postponed or, even worse, cancelled because of an admission to hospital. The great news is that they can do their exams while in hospital. It doesn’t matter how much or how little time there is to arrange this. If a pupil, their family and medical team are happy for an exam to go ahead then everything will be in place to ensure that they have the opportunity to continue with this part of their education. Marie - Assistant Head 101



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Mudlarking on the Thames Foreshore

10 6

'All the staff are funny and friendly'

Regular mudlarking trips enable pupils to experience the thrill of learning in an outdoor environment which is local to the school. Real life historical enquiry through finding things on the foreshore is both exciting and revelatory. Cleaning, sorting and categorising ‘finds’ back at school helps pupils to make hypotheses about the past. Follow-up research helps draw valid conclusions about London and Londoners through the centuries from as far back as pre-history. Jo - Assistant Head 107

10 8




Music with Wigmore Hall


'It was fun and I was sad leaving'

In addition to our regular weekly music sessions we also ran a pilot project with Ignite, an ensemble of six classical musicians from Wigmore Hall. This was a great opportunity for our students to engage with professional musicians who played a wide range of instruments from bass clarinet to vibraphone. Each week we worked together to create a collection of compositions, which were then performed at a concert in the chapel at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. The Ignite musicians also visited the hospital wards to play for those students who were unable to come to the classroom. We will be continuing our partnership with Wigmore Hall and making more wonderful music together. Martin - Photographer & Music Teacher 113











'At the end, I just want to say: everybody thank you for everything'

Learning to cook can be so much fun and how much better than to grow the food you’re going to cook! At Collingham we have a small garden and also grow things in car tyre tubs. Last year we remodelled the raised beds and vertical growing area so that students can have a year round experience of gardening. We teach pupils to cook basic healthy foods and to be open to new tastes. After cookery sessions everyone gets to taste what they have made and eat a meal together. Jo - Assistant Head 125



A Trip to The Science Museum

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'The Hospital School helps me to learn better'

The primary students at Chelsea & Westminster have been exploring forces in their science lessons. They went on a trip to the Launch Pad at the Science Museum. They enjoyed exploring, playing and experimenting with all the hands-on activities. A great day! Lucy - Primary Teacher 131



Sports and Games

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'I enjoyed PE, playing against the staff and students'

We believe that everyone has a sport or activity that they can enjoy and achieve in. Physical education takes place each week at a local sports centre and both students and teachers get involved in sports activities which include football, basketball, table tennis, tennis and badminton. It can get quite competitive at times but the most important thing is the taking part. Faisal - Secondary Teacher 135



13 8




'I never felt that I was away from my real school'

Working with clay has a powerful and positive effect on everyone, almost without exception. Some even enjoy the sheer physical thrill of plunging their arms elbow-deep into the squidgy depths of the reclaim bucket. In pottery lessons and after school students learn all sorts of decorative and construction techniques. When they are confident enough to develop their own work they are also free to throw away the rulebook! Lessons are always rooted in the practical experience but we also look at and handle pots from different places and times using our own extensive archive collection. Jo - Assistant Head 141



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The Staff Team



Our staff team is a marvellous organically changing beast. Just like the population we serve we are a hotch potch of ideas and contradictions which, by some strange alchemy, never fails to surprise. We’ve got a huge array of talents alongside quiet understatement and diligence. The binding factor is a desire to make good things happen and to do this in any way we can. Jo - Assistant Head 147

School Governors School governors are one of the UK’s largest voluntary groups. The board of governors along with the head teacher are responsible for contributing to the strategic vision and direction for Chelsea Community Hospital School and for raising standards of achievement. School governors are drawn from different parts of the local community and can include parents, staff, members of the local authority, the community and other groups. This helps ensure the governing body has sufficient diversity of views and experience to drive improvement in the way that best meets the needs of our student population. clockwise from left - Jay, Zarif, Chris, Annie, Angela, Debbie, Lady Karen, Max, Carrine, Councillor Marie-Therese, Marie, Joan, Janette, Nicola

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Office and Teaching Staff at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital - Suet, Linda, Ann Marie, Leane, Lucy 149

Teaching Staff at St Mary’s Hospital - Robin, Melissa, Jayne, Maria, Nicola 150

Teaching Staff at Royal Brompton Hospital - Ben, Bela, Helen, Marie, Steve 151

Teaching Staff at Collingham Child & Family Centre - Fred, Jo, Pips, Kim, Amanda, Helen, Clem 152

Teaching Staff at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital - Miranda, Sian, Faisal, Helen, Paul, Susan, Jay 153

“The rack behind me is home to the electronic equipment that helps keep the school running smoothly. Approximately 300,000 emails, 60,000 video clips, 50,000 teaching records, 17,000 Microsoft Word documents and the details of every pupil taught at the Hospital School are stored here. Around half a million internet requests come from 107 PCs and 10 servers every day.� Chris - Network Consultant 154

“For me, working at Collingham is a joy, an ever changing opportunity to help children and families rediscover their potential. One boy, Jamie, started his year 6 at Collingham after a year in mainstream school when he was rarely able to be in the classroom and spent most of his time either running around the building or tearfully wondering why life was so difficult for him and not for his friends. He finished his year 6 back in a mainstream classroom, getting Level 5 for his maths and English SATs, playing a lead role in the school production of Oklahoma! and looking forward to joining the friends he made on his new secondary school taster day in September. What more could we ask! Another boy, James, who came to Collingham and made huge changes, died, and it is so sad to think that this funny, tenacious little boy is no longer giving his mum all the joy he used to bring her. Hopefully next year we will meet some more exceptional children who will teach us more about how to do the job well.” Amanda - Assistant Head 155

“We have many long term students in isolation. We disinfect the laptops once a student has been discharged to help prevent cross-infection and to ensure that it is clean and ready for the next student.” Robin - Teaching Assistant and Youth Worker

“Many of the students we meet find their time in hospital a very stressful experience. I try to minimise their anxieties by offering a variety of projects such as creating animations and making films. I try to give our students opportunities to experiment with different techniques in creating their own productions whilst having a lot of fun! Here I am working on a project with my colleague Natalie.” Fred - ICT Project Coordinator


Sparkle in the Rain How are you today my friend? How are you today? If feelings were just like the weather Are you the sun, are you the rain? Did the sun just go behind a cloud? Or did the sun come out to sparkle once again? Sparkle in the rain Sparkle in the rain.

“When I first met Janette, our Principal, at the old Westminster Children’s Hospital site, before the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital was even built, we sang some songs with the children, visitors, families and nurses. Within a moment the power of music and shared humour brought a calmer frame of mind that I hope remained with the children and families during their time at the hospital. Recently, Leo, our young ‘school ambassador’, spoke about the important role the Hospital School has played in his life from when he first came to the hospital as a young child and how we are all together on a shared journey. Purpose for me comes through a shared musical communication and I thank Janette and the team for the opportunity to contribute to the values and vision of the Hospital School.” Brian - Musician 157

“Coming from a mainstream background I am struck by how teaching at the Hospital School is all about being spontaneous, how every day is different, and in a way that is a perfect situation for children to learn in.� Amy - Primary Teacher


“As well as supporting learning in the classroom as the Special Educational Needs Nursery Nurse I also work in the school office. As a licensed tutor I offer training to the school staff and hospital staff on the paediatric wards in Makaton, a language programme that uses signs and symbols to help children and adults communicate.� Linda - SEN Nursery Nurse 159

“Preparing for a new term at the Hospital School is always interesting, because I never know who I’ll be teaching on the first day. No two days are ever the same here, and the students I teach can change not only weekly, or daily, but even between the morning and afternoon sessions. Meeting the needs of a wide variety of students can be challenging, especially when it has to happen at short notice, but it’s a real privilege getting to know so many wonderful young people and families. Along with new people, I usually see familiar faces at the start of term too: recurrent students who regularly spend time in hospital and whose time in the Hospital School forms a vital part of their long-term education. What’s particularly rewarding about my job is getting to know these students and seeing them again and again. We are able to personalise our curriculum, and liaise with students’ home schools, to meet students’ individual needs. This helps to ensure continuity in children’s education, despite the amount of time they spend in hospital.” Laura - Secondary Teacher

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“I think the work we do, particularly in providing a ‘normal’ (non-medical) environment and in building relationships with our students, is hugely important. Sometimes it can be difficult working with long-term students who have been very unwell – but good things happen most days! It is always fantastic when a student gets something in class, or becomes increasingly confident in coming to school and interacting with us and the other students.” Helen - Teaching Assistant 161

“As a teacher I feel incredibly lucky that as well as having a job I love, I also work with pay and conditions that allow for a good quality of life. Being in a union ensures that as a collective we can fight to keep these. The union is also a great resource, offering training on a variety of things relevant to teaching from ICT to diversity. Most of all being in the union allows for solidarity between the teachers within our school as well as with teachers from other schools.� Melissa - Secondary Teacher & NUT Representative


Hospital School teachers joined 750,000 public sector workers on a day of action protesting at the government’s planned cuts on pensions. “It is never an easy decision to go on strike, especially when we’re being demonized by the media and the Labour party leader for daring to do so! But how else can we make our point that everyone, whether public or private sector, who has worked and contributed for a lifetime deserves a dignified retirement? It’s not asking much, and OK, I know there’s a recession on, but in the grand scheme we are still one of the wealthiest countries! I’m so glad I went to the march and rally. The speakers, especially the young Newly Qualified Teachers, were very inspiring. Of course, the icing on the cake was being able to see and hear Tony Benn give us his support. This is probably only the start. We will not give up – why should we?” Kim - Secondary Teacher


Friends of Chelsea Community Hospital School The aims of the Friends of Chelsea Community Hospital School (FCCHS) charity are twofold: firstly, to support the Hospital School by raising money which helps fund extra-curricular activities, many of which take place outside official term times. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) funds the running of the school during term time but, as the school is open 50 weeks a year, the money raised by the FCCHS supports activities not funded by the RBKC. Secondly, by being a properly constituted charity the school is able to apply to major charitable institutions for funding for large or long-term projects. The FCCHS has a weekly, term-time stall in the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and, more recently, in the Royal Brompton Hospital selling cards and stationery, books, toys and bric-a-brac. The FCCHS also runs a 100+ Club, a lottery where you can buy a share for ÂŁ10, which is put into a draw and could win a prize of ÂŁ100. If you would like to find out more about the FCCHS please contact Nicky Foy via the school. Clair, Ann, Trish, Janette, Daniel, Sue, Silvana, Nicky 16 4

After launching our new website Baroness Mary Warnock went on to mention us in the House of Lords: “This week, I was present at the launch of a new website especially designed for teachers in training and in post in the classroom. It was launched at the Chelsea Community Hospital School, which is a marvellous school. The website gives information and advice on an enormous number of difficulties that children may be experiencing in classrooms, starting with severe allergies and going through every possible educational obstacle. I very much hope that that website will be very widely used in teacher training establishments and by teachers as individuals when they are faced with a problem that they do not quite understand. I recommend that website very highly to all teacher training establishments.� Maria, Janette, Baroness Mary Warnock


Isabella - Collingham Child & Family Centre 16 6

Julio - St Mary’s Hospital

Francisco - Chelsea & Westminster Hospital

Doris - The Royal Brompton Hospital 167

The Marvellous Medicine Ball

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School staff and the Friends of Chelsea Children’s Hospital School organised a charity event to help raise funds for the Hospital School. The evening was a fun-packed extravaganza featuring live music, dancing and a charity auction. 169



Supporting Chelsea Community Hospital School We rely on the support of our sponsors and volunteers for many of our new initiatives. If you are able to help our school in any way then please contact us on 0203 315 8672 or via our website 172


An Extra Special Thank You

Without the support of a huge number of people this project would not have been possible, and so I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all the students and their families who put up with me jumping around with a camera while they were trying to do their studies. Thanks also to all the staff who similarly put up with me photographing the minutiae of their working lives. A special thank you to Deirdre for all her help with editing the photographs, to Jo and Marie for their help with the text, to Shaun for his constant encouragement and artistic input, to Chris for his sharp eye for detail and advice on all matters technical, to Linda for checking the text, to Sylvia for proofreading the text and lastly to Janette, who has supported the project in every way from its inception to completion.

Raising money for the initial print run involved a leap of faith, and I would like to thank all the following people, including school staff, friends and family, who were prepared to buy a copy of the book before it was even printed:    Amanda Thompson, Angela Broadbent, Angus Strachan, Annie Chance, Caleb Jones, Chris Cole, Christa Harris, Debbie Potts, Douglas Phillips, Faisal Ali, Gary Jones, Gary Moore, Gerda Dixon, Helen Buchan, Helen Damon, Janette Steel, Jayne Lowry, Jeremy Raphaely, Jo Eaves, Jon Parker, Linda Woodgate, Lucy Summers, Maria Hewanicka, Maria Marinho, Miranda Duurloo Bradshaw, Nicky Foy, Paul Byrne, Maureen, Pips and Henry Rudd, Sally Stone, Sarah Hurley, Shaun Dolan, Sherin White, Stefan Szczelkun, Steven Crawford, Sue Browne, Sylvia Pleasant, Tim Bannon and Tim Goulborn. Martin Dixon 173

The unsung heroes of the school carry on faithfully doing what really matters to those whom the hospital is actually all about, our precious children. Salut! Andrew Bush MD FRCP FRCPCH - Professor of Paediatric Respirology

‘Hospital School - A Year in the Life’ shows many remarkable journeys recorded ‘through a lens lightly’. Janette Steel OBE - Principal