Just because a child is in hospital doesn’t mean they have to miss out on going to school.
The Ipswich Hospital School Room, on Boxford Ward, has gone from “strength to strength” according to lead teacher Kate Kingsford-Bere.
She joined the school room, which is operated by Ipswich-based multi-academy trust, the Raedwald Trust, in January.
The school provides education for any school-age child (4 to 18-years-old) offering tuition and activities based on the National Curriculum. The team can also help those children who may be missing exams due to being in hospital, a number of youngsters took GCSE and A-level exams in the school room before the end of the summer term.
Kate said: “They are going through a lot when they come to hospital so we try to make it a very calm and positive experience for them all.
“We don’t have medical intervention here, it’s very separate from the ward. It makes it ‘normal’ for the children and parents find it very supportive.
“For us as a team we have to be thinking on our feet all the time – you never know who you are going to have coming in. You may have a wonderful plan for the day, but you need to have something up your sleeve to tailor it to the child’s needs.”
The classroom itself is bright and resembles what you would see in a mainstream school with colourful displays adorning the walls. Timings are kept as similar to the school day as possible and work is often tied in with international days, including online internet safety, Chinese New Year and World Environment Day, as well as termly topics which have included space and ancient Egypt.
One parent said: “The school room is a fantastic facility, invaluable service and helped our daughter to focus on something other than her pain. Staff are amazing.”
A young patient said: “The education I received during my long stay at hospital was outstanding, I couldn’t fault it one bit. Everybody would want to help me if I got stuck and all of the teachers were very kind and funny.”
Kate and her team, which also includes teaching assistants Lizzie Vincent and Nichole Phillips, not only provide education for youngsters while they are in hospital, but they can also liaise with a child’s school and help with planning education after they are discharged and support a child returning to the classroom.
Kate said: “It’s a privilege to work here, it’s the best job in the world. The children are inspirational, they still come through the door with a smile on their faces despite the difficulties they are facing, but education helps them on the road to recovery.”
Lizzie said: “It totally takes their mind off what’s going on.”
The Ipswich Hospital School Room is part of the Raedwald Trust, a registered charity which provides alternative education across eight sites in Ipswich. For updates on the school room and its activities, follow @ipshospsch on Twitter or visit www.raedwaldtrust.org
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