Case Study 35, April 2003

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Including the potentially excluded.

This is the fourth Case Study of five during the 2002-03 session. This Case Study and the work it illustrates are both good examples of 'joined up working'. It describes how the staff of two City of Glasgow educational establishments work to ensure that pupils who might be excluded, or whose education could be at risk because of discontinuity, are actually included educationally and socially. 'Including the potentially excluded' is one of SSEN's themese for this session. The other theme illustrated in this Case Study is 'Increasing pupil participation'. Two of the collaborative partners in ensuring inclusion and increasing pupil participation are the Hospital Education and Home Tuition Service (HEHTS) and Ashcraig Secondary School. Other essential partners are the pupils themselves and their families. Medical and paramedical staff complete the team. Collaboration, careful planning and willingness to undertake critical reviews of progress and outcomes are all essential to positive outcomes.

This Case Study was published by the Scottish Schools Ethos Network.

Contacts for this Case Study
Glasgow City Council Education Services
Hospital Education & Home Tuition Service
Peter Feeley, Co-ordinator
Royal Hospital for Sick Children
Yorkhill, Glasgow G3 8SJ
Tel: 0141 201 0014
Fax: 0141 201 0876

Ashcraig Secondary School
Maureen McGeever, HT
100 Avenue End Road
Glasgow G33 3SW
Tel: 0141 774 3428
Fax: 0141 774 5571

The 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.

Introduction to Ashcraig School

Ashcraig 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.

Within 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 class work!

Many 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.

'Keeping up' not 'falling behind'

We 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.

Ashcraig 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.

Most 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.

One 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).



Picture 1:The Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill, Glasgow - 'home' for many Ashcraig pupils from time to time.

Picture 2: An S1 pupil on her way by school bus to the hospital for a check-up.

Picture 3: One of our S1 pupils receives physiotherapy from a member of the school's therapeutic staff who liaises regularly with the hospital physiotherapist.

"We can watch science experiments that can't take place in hospital"
S5 pupil
"I'll be able to get involved in group discussion with my class"
S3 pupil
"It'll help me to feel I'm in touch and in control"
S4 pupil
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