Your move: Hospital teaching

4th March 2005 at 00:00
Get thinking about your future career

If you went into teaching to make a real difference, you might enjoy working in a hospital.

There are 26 hospital schools in the UK with governors and LEA representatives, and many more hospital education teaching services. To get an idea of the level of need: 10 per cent of five to 15 year-olds have mental health problems, including eating disorders, and there are a variety of other long-term or chronic conditions such as leukemia, ME, and cystic fibrosis that will necessitate absences of four weeks and more, the period which triggers the LEA into arranging home or hospital tuition. Related careers include hospital play-worker, nursery nurse, teaching assistant, story telling and youth work.

It is vital for chronically sick children to keep up with academic work. This means sensitive pastoral work and creative solutions. Children form even stronger attachments to each other in hospitals, and when death occurs. At Chelsea children's hospital school, a girl who became withdrawn after her boyfriend's death was helped by a storyteller who enabled her to open up and talk. Art and drama are invaluable in coping with trauma, disfigurement, injury and effects of treatment such as hair loss from chemotherapy.

Every school has a teacher responsible for children with medical needs, including liaising with hospital units, parents and medical teams, and assisting with re-integration. Common issues include shifting friendship groups, changes to the child's appearance and preparing the class by maintaining some sort of contact such as get well cards.

To get a taste, volunteer.

Useful websites

http:www.dfes.gov.uksickchildrenlinks.shtml

http:news.bbc.co.uk1hihealth3314231.stm

http:www.chelseachildrenshospitalschool.orgcchs03our_schoolcpd.htm

Andy Stanley

Next month: Volunteering and VSOwork

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