EDUCATION knows no barriers for teachers at the Great Western Hospital who have tutored as many as 600 young patients unable to attend school on the wards and at home in the last year.
Regardless of their condition, which can vary from a broken arm to cancer, the Hospital and Home Education Service ensures every child keeps up with his or her studies.
This is no easy task, with an unpredictable number of youngsters to teach, but it is one which is becoming increasingly necessary and helps maintain a semblance of normality in pupils’ lives.
“We get a huge variety of children,” said afternoon teacher Andrea Honey.
“Since September we have had 600 children through the door.
“For lots of reasons they are not able to keep up their school education.
“They may have had an accident and that affects them physically, they may be ill or something has happened in their life that has caused emotional issues.
“It might also be children who are through the worst of what they come in for on the wards.
“We have the classroom here but teachers also teach in the community if children are not well enough to go to mainstream school.”
“It is two hours a day but because these are smaller group lessons, they are able to catch up on what they are doing. They have the opportunity to get extra input.
“So many students’ education has broken down. They come to us at their worst and it’s so lovely to see them being able to engage.
“Sometimes it’s about having a new start and building up again so they can feel better.
“I think it goes a long way to put them in the right direction.”
Eleven-year-old Nova Hreod pupil Anya, who sufferers from seizures, has been attending the afternoon class regularly, where she has been following her school’s curriculum.
“I get seizures and I’m quite tired in the morning and when I can’t make it into school I come here,” she said.
“I think it has made me more confident and the best part about coming here is the teachers.”
The teaching team not only helps pupils at a very difficult and frightening time in their lives, they also encourage children to overcome their fears and, if they feel ready for the challenge, gradually return to mainstream school.
After nearly a year with the team, out-patient Emily, 14, who has been struggling with anxiety, is now preparing to start college in September.
“I have anxiety and going to school at the hospital is a bit more relaxed,” said the Year 10 student who will sit her GCSE exams next year.
“I have been here for about a year now, two hours a day, and it’s helped with my confidence. Now I am looking forward to going to college.
“It has been easier just being able to learn without being in school full time.”
One of her classmates, who asked not to be named, has been attending the programme at GWH since falling pregnant.
“I find it a lot better than mainstream school,” said the 15-year-old.
“They don’t judge. I have been learning English and maths and I find it easier to work and learn here.”