work of the City of Glasgow's Hospital & Home Tuition
Service and Ashcraig Secondary School in ensuring educational
and social inclusion and increased participation of
frequently hospitalised children.
to Ashcraig School
School is a Glasgow secondary school for pupils with
physical impairments, visual impairments and chronic
or acute medical conditions. The school was originally
built to meet the needs of Strathclyde region and currently
we still take about forty per cent of our 130 pupils
from other Education Authorities. We have 70 teaching
and support staff and the school is equipped to meet
therapeutic as well as educational needs. We have therapy
teams who work closely with teaching and support staff,
Yorkhill NHS Trust holds some clinics in the school
and when a pupil is in hospital we work closely with
the Hospital Education Service to maintain and promote
uninterrupted learning. Staffing is organised as in
a mainstream secondary, but with one major difference.
Because all our pupils have special educational needs
we have integral support for learning right across the
school. To implement this we have two support teams
- PAST, our pastoral care team, and PACT, the curricular
access team. Assessment and on-going review of all children's
progress are undertaken individually through the pupil
support team's weekly meetings and the annual review
system. Classes are small and well supported by auxiliary
and therapy teams. Pupils' ability range within the
school is wide and we offer courses of study from Access
to Higher level within Higher Still.
the school our main aim is to ensure pupils miss out
on learning as little as possible. When a pupil is at
home recovering, like all the best customer services,
we offer home delivery of good wishes and of missed
of our pupils will undergo medical supervision, surgery
and unforeseen illnesses during their secondary schooling,
commuting intermittently between school and hospital
(see Picture 2). Relationships are warm and positive
in both locations, combining personal support with high
expectations. Throughout their school careers pupils
are supported to manage both their health and their
learning, thus providing a sound basis for progress
towards successfully achieved aims.
up' not 'falling behind'
work very hard to maintain continuity in learning when
our pupils are in hospital or too unwell to attend school.
That remains our top priority. The delivery of homework
or missed class work to our pupils, wherever they are,
certainly informs pupils about the work they are missing,
school newsletters give news of school events and special
projects, but neither really helps with those vital
social updates. However, we are now looking more closely
at ways to make sure pupils still feel included in the
life of the school's social structures during their
absences. If a pupil has been absent for a certain amount
of time they often feel that the social ground has shifted.
Who is no longer an item with whom and why have these
particular pupils suddenly become best friends? A previously
close fellow pupil may now appear to have moved on.
Our pupils experience with painful frequency the changing
nature of social relationships that most pupils only
encounter on moving from primary to secondary school.
School's teaching and support staff often visit pupils
in hospital, including over holiday periods. Pupils
tell us they enjoy staff visits even if we are not quite
as up to date with all the gossip as peer visitors!
Get Well cards from friends at school and personal messages
are all part of our extensive system for promoting continuity.
of our pupils already use e-mail and we anxiously await
the joining up of the current dual information technology
systems of Health and Education Services. When this
happens, e-mail services will also be supplemented by
on-line video facilities. We hope to set up chat rooms
using video technology so that at break times pupils
can talk socially with their friends in hospital. If
multi-agency work is to benefit children fully, then
multi-agency technology needs to be planned with compatibility
in mind! Early trials of video conferencing in the past
were hampered by lack of portable technology and of
easily accessible systems, undermining its use. Pupils
themselves are aware of the enormous potential benefits
to them of this technology and already anticipate how
it will benefit them.
of the most vital links between our school and the Royal
Hospital for Sick Children is the on-going supportive
communication between medical therapy staff in both
establishments. Pupils' treatments started in hospital
are carried on smoothly after discharge in the school,
allowing the young people to return to school as speedily
as possible with confidence that their health needs
will be understood and met along with their learning
and social needs (see Picture 3).