From 15th to 16th June 2017 I had the chance to do a short job-shadowing at Chelsea Community Hospital School.

As a hospital school teacher in Vienna and programme manager of the 10th HOPE (Hospital School Organization of Pedagogues in Europe) Congress in Vienna in May 2016, I’ve dreamed of visiting my British colleagues and participating in their lessons and meetings. Thanks to the open-mindedness of both the teachers and the students I had the chance to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere at two of their hospital school sites.

Read all about my visit:

 On the first day at the Royal Brompton Hospital school site I assisted at the morning handover with a nurse and the pedagogical team. This is the moment where teachers learn about the admission, release or readmission of young patients, how the night was for them, which medical interventions are planned for the day, the condition and particularities of the patients. The meeting is important for the pedagogical staff to be able to organize a school day at hospital adapted to everybody’s needs.

On the second day I was invited to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital school site. The morning meeting reeled under the shock of Grenfell Tower Fire and the questions of how to deal best with the young inpatient victims and their families.

After being shown around on the different ‘planet wards’ of this modern and well equipped hospital I participated in the morning lessons of the primary school. Pupils with different medical and psychological conditions who feel well enough to leave their beds were accompanied to the luminous and child friendly classroom.

Sequences of collective and individual teaching followed one another. A girl with pain attacks due to an operation and a boy worried about school besides other problems needed a lot of the teacher’s attention. The teacher used the sign language Makaton which supports spoken language with signs and symbols. It really astonished me how in group activities the children performed as they were already using signs as well, whereas it was difficult for me to follow them.

After the lunch break I followed English, drama and art lesson with adolescents going to a hospital school for various reasons. Not only was their age widely spread but also their needs. Nevertheless the students interacted in a respectful way with one another and the teachers. They knew more than me about sonnets and we all had fun at the drama / art lesson.

Many thanks to all the teachers at Royal Brompton and Chelsea and Westminster hospital school sites for showing me around and for letting me be part of their team during these two days. Many thanks also to all the pupils and students for accepting and welcoming me. All of you made this job shadowing a great experience and the only thing I regret is that it was so short.

Very best wishes from Vienna