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Chelsea Community Hospital School News

August 2011


Chelsea & Westminster Hospital’s new school has been a tremendous success, with all students reporting that the environment is much more conducive to studying – we have also been able to accommodate not only all the patients from the ward, but also an increasing number of community students.  Many of the students from the Community have been unable to attend school for long periods, due to their medical or mental health condition, so we are delighted to be able to report a significant improvement in attendance amongst this group.  We are of course waiting with baited breath for the exam results for our students, many of whom have completed their two year GCSE courses in one year, others despite being unwell have persevered with their studies, we wish all our students the best of luck in their College Courses and we look forward to hearing how their educational journey progresses.

Another enhancement to the service we provide has been that of our Careers Counsellor, this role has been developed over the past year and the benefit of having Ben Lewis visiting all sites on a regular basis has been immense.  In particular those students whose education has been interrupted by a recurrent medical condition, these meetings have meant that educational goals and career planning have been at the centre of our year 10 and 11 student’ s education plan – and have raised their motivation to apply themselves to their exam studies.   

Other roles we have developed in the school, have been that of Mentor, Jay Nagla, as well as very efficiently fulfilling the role of exams officer, completed her course in Mentoring earlier this year and she is now able to offer sessions to students who are needing support and guidance in their emotional and social development.  For many students who have faced bullying and other traumatic incidents leaving them fragile and often with fears and phobias that restrict their development we offer art therapy sessions with Susan Rudnick and drama therapy with Mary Freeman.  Families have recognised the importance of this additional support if their children are to lead successful lives in the future.

We were delighted to have Baroness Mary Warnock officially open our www.wellatschool.org web site, this web site is constantly developing, just recently Frederic Irigary who was working with the medical team and families at St. Mary’s completed two videos one on Bone Marrow Transplants and one on Sickle Cell – please do view these and let us have your views.  We are having more and more teachers signing up each week and hundreds of hits each day, this is not only UK wide but also Europe, USA & Australia.  We provide a question and answer facility and both teachers and parents have used this. Maria Marinho and Martin Dixon will be working with Patsy Wagner the Principal Educational Psychologist for RBKC to develop this site further, in particular looking at patients who have severe and profound learning difficulties.

This time last year we heard that the Royal Brompton was expanding its Cystic Fibrosis beds and developing a sleep study centre, this we were informed meant that we would have to move from our present accommodation to the ground floor.  However, we were delighted that the Senior Paediatric Consultant and the nursing team were adamant that the school needed to keep its central position in the Paediatric ward.  After many meetings and explorations of the 4th floor a space was identified that would replace our third classroom.  This space is adjacent to two of our classrooms – with grateful relief we accepted this space, but then set to thinking about how we could ensure that this space could be used to better effect.  At present children with cystic fibrosis have to be segregated from each other, resulting in only one at a time being in each of the three classrooms, also the rooms are divided into very small spaces and the third room is windowless.  We invited Studio 4 architects to produce some designs for the school using the idea of glass to create an illusion of space and to use glass-sliding panels to create a bright teaching and learning environment.  The design will enable us to teach many more pupils and we hope will motivate them to continue their studies.   We decided to use all the monies we had in our Friends of Chelsea Hospital School Charity account, however costs kept expanding due to the services needed, at present the school has no air conditioning and so the space is often hot and stuffy, not at all conducive to study for children with heart and lung conditions! -  We then applied to the Royal Brompton Charity and after appearing in front of the Trust Board they agreed to pay £50,000 towards the building costs, we were also delighted to recieve an anonymous donation of £25,000 and our Marvellous Dedicine Ball raised £10,000.  So we moved from sleepless nights to a joyous sense of achievement – (This will be the third new school in 4 years many thanks to Chris Cole who has worked tirelessly through each of these move ensuring that the resources and the ICT structure is in place!)  The building work started on the 1st August and we plan to have the school open by the 16th September, (complete with an art installation designed by our artist in residence Sean Dolan).  At present we are using the play room on Rose and working by the bedsides, we are hoping to have an official opening in mid October and will let you know the date as soon as possible. 

We are delighted to announce that Collingham Child and Family Unit is one of the first inpatient psychiatric units to have passed their Accreditation by QNIC (Quality Network for inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).  Ten inpatient units applied for the first year of the accreditation programme (there are 100 units registered)– and three so far have met the 400 standards.  I was lucky enough to be voted on to the Executive Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists four years ago as Education representative and have been extremely pleased that the standards for education have improved exponentially over the past few years. On September 16th QNIC are supporting a training day for teachers from all over the UK who work in inpatient units - health and education working together to provide better outcomes for children and young people with mental health problems.  We will be promoting our well at school web site at this conference.


We introduced the Arts Award for our students this year, and we worked with a music group Akademi, for a 6-week arts programme, including, composing, designing, dancing and writing.  We are delighted that 6 of our students obtained the standard to receive a Bronze Arts Award (equivalent to a GCSE).  One of our goals for the next year is to increase our short courses that can offer an accreditation, as well as expanding our GNVQ courses.

We have been involved in some discussions relating to the Three Borough developments, we have our new service level agreement with Westminster for the next 3 years agreed and we have now developed our outreach service for working with children and young people in Westminster who are unable to attend school due to medical or mental health problems.  We feel that this development has enabled us to have an enriched staff team and it is definitely increased value for money – each teacher has responsibility for one community student as well as their teaching role in the schools, at present Circular 732/2001 states 5 hours tuition, our budget from both RBKC and Westminster is based on this provision, so we need to ensure that any new legislation with reference to hours taught is planned for. 

I would like to thank all the Learning Assistants and our artists for the wonderful, stimulating and fun holiday programme that they are running during the summer holidays.  So many parents have sought me out to say how much this service is appreciated and how helpful the holiday teams are.  Especial thanks to all working at the Royal Brompton as they juggle with the space available.

Best wishes to everyone, enjoy your summer,


Janette Steel

Head Teacher






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