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School News
November 2011

Official Opening of the new School Building on Rose Ward.


Tuesday the 8th November, was a Jubilant evening – the official opening of the new school build for patients on Rose Ward, coinciding with the Royal Brompton Hospital winning a review into the heart unit closure. 
Sir Robert Finch on behalf of the Royal Brompton Charity officially declared the school open, he spoke of the importance of education continuing whilst children and young people are in hospital  - this was echoed by Paula Cogan, a long term patient who had spent more than 25% of her education at the hospital school.  Despite her many admissions to hospital, Paula achieved highly in her exams and now at University she is a beacon to other young people who face the challenge of having a medical condition on how to develop resilience and  remain motivated.  Claude Lattin another former student,  now studying Japanese at University, spoke of the wider impact of the hospital school,  for example the support of careers counselling and relevant work experience – Many thanks to both of them for being Ambassadors for hospital education.

The dilemma for CCHS was how we design a school in a relatively small space that will enable as many young people to attend as possible.  Patients with cystic fibrosis have to be segregated from one another, so only one student could be in a classroom at one time – we turned to the Architects for advice and we were lucky that Studio 4 who had worked with us to design the new school at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital were available – The team very quickly came up with an idea that created a sense of light by windows in every wall, and glass partitions which gave us five separate learning spaces.  Students, staff and parents were closely involved with thinking about how the space could be best developed – however our thanks must go to Laura Livesly from Studio 4, Chris Cole our ICT Manager for their diligence in ensuring all the technical details were incorporated. Many thanks also to Shaun Dolan, our artist in residence, who again steered the team towards a sophisticated colour scheme in the secondary rooms and studio and soft colours in the primary rooms.

The second dilemma was – How are we going to raise the funds needed?  - A Marvellous Medicine Ball,  cake sales, leaflets explaining the plan to all and sundry, after dinner speeches, persuading and cajoling – our Fantastic Friends of Chelsea Hospital School and volunteers all became fired up and did their par - so many, many thanks. We did it – ‘Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith’ (Margaret Shepherd).

As our school has always highlighted the arts as a way of developing communication skills, another strength is that of communication technology – so what better than to celebrate the new school than by asking Shaun and Chris to design an arts and technology sculpture – this piece integrates words from school reports and shapes from the school design – the art work continually changes colour and this can be activated from a computer or mobile phone – making a truly interactive piece of work.

The evening ended with Phillip Wells our ‘poet in residence’ reading some of our student’s poetry – the language of poetry develops communication skills and self expression, giving voice and form to the many losses children may experience in hospital, fostering attitudes and skills that maybe helpful when facing difficult times.  The feelings described in these poems gave one an insight into the difficulties faced by young people in hospital.

One year after obtaining our British Council International Accreditation, we were delighted to win first prize for our international links.  The Link2Learn Award Ceremony took place at Canary Wharf on the 16th November; the prize was £5000 which will be used to further develop our links with teachers and students in Gaza.  Leo Jordan our School Student Ambassador spoke about the importance of our links with schools in Europe, and our regular video conferencing with a boys school in Gaza.  He spoke of the international flavour of CCHS – how so many young people arrive from abroad to have complex facial surgery in the ‘Facing the World’ project , often travelling alone and with very little English – and how these international links help them to settle into life in London. 

A video was shown of ‘Talking to Gaza’ a compilation of students at CCHS sharing their views and lives with students in Gaza over the past two years.
At the same time an art exhibition and video conferencing session was taking place at Leighton House Museum, for the Nour Festival.
This enabled the public to join with our students to find out how these young people lived.  Along with this a curtain of porcelain tiles hangs like a curtain -  light shining through these tiles with a gentle imprint of Islamic materials –  imprints of ancient keys – evokes the loss of home.  This exhibition was put together with Joanna Eaves our international School co-ordinator, Shaun our artist in residence and students from Collingham child and Family Unit.  They must all be congratulated on this moving and fascinating exhibition – and for the organisation and imagination in developing this project.

A Year in the Life of Chelsea Hospital School,  is a photographic project developed by our website designer and music teacher Martin Dixon – please do sign up for a copy of this book which gives a comprehensive insight into the experience of children and young people in a hospital school.

Janette Steel
Head Teacher





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