Solas Hospital School in Dublin, Ireland, is committed to providing its students with the best possible education and support. As a part of this commitment the school uses the Conditions section of Well at School website as an induction tool for new hospital teachers.
Help us better help others: Online, self-help, one-off help for young people’s mental health can boost their coping skills
Help us better help others: Online, self-help, one-off help for young people’s mental health can boost their coping skills.
A guest blog post from Dr Maria Loades, Department of Psychology, University of Bath.
Sunshine and Showers
It feels like summer’s been here for weeks, long days, elevated temperatures, and so little rain. A walk down the high street or on country lanes requires sunhats and dark glasses. But, as I write this there is a break in the back-to-back blue skies and dark heavy clouds are bringing much needed relief to the parched ground that should yield grass, or something green pretending to be grass. For many it has been another tough year, but schools have once again been a constant, bringing not only education but other services to help and support their students and families. Some schools will continue to open their doors during the summer as they act as a community hub.
One of the questions we have been asking is "What have we learned from the pandemic that can improve the education experience for children and young people with chronic health conditions?"
Initially we asked school staff at a London Hospital School and then more broadly through social media.
Finally we asked an international audience at the at the bi-annual HOPE conference in Italy in May 2023.
Hope Conference 2023: Shaping the Future with Education
It was with great enthusiasm that 220+ delegates from around the world finally met for the long-awaited HOPE Conference in Milan, Italy. The Covid 19 pandemic had seen the postponement of the 12th biannual event in 2020 and then again in 2022.
Delegates with a passion and interest in the role of hospital education in the lives of children and young people living with medical and mental health conditions met to share research, practice, and experience. Maria and Martin from Well at School presented their work on “Education Re-imagined.”
The Road Ahead
Winter is almost over and the beauty of the trees and frosty landscapes is slowly fading. There is an urgency to see new life, fresh beginnings, and a bit more of the sun. Nature will deliver in the weeks ahead.
This restlessness can also be felt in our schools at this half way point in the year when most of the curriculum for the exam classes has been covered and the long road to summer exams begins. Mocks over, targets set and heads down - hoping for the best.
Time To Listen
It is remarkable how our habits can change and become second nature. The last three years has been a huge social experiment as well as a medical emergency. It’s not often radical change happens quickly, so what can we learn from it? How do we move forward without simply slipping back to the old ways?
Towards the Light
It can be hard to see the light right now. There is a dark heavy feeling over the weeks, months, and possibly years ahead. Our schools are struggling with rising costs and increasing needs. Reports of shortfalls in budgets, staff recruitment issues, and increasing social problems have become the everyday business of all our schools.
What is next for SEND policy and practice?
Many politicians have a fondness for looking back, hoping to find solutions for today’s problems in actions of the past. With a focus on grammar and ‘knowledge rich’ curricula, the marginalisation of skills-based learning, and the back-and-forth reintroduction of grammar schools, it is hard at times to see even a spark of a new idea.
Looking for HOPE
We live in unsettled times. The events in Europe over the past weeks, along with the pandemic, force us to reflect. It’s easy to take for granted the things we have and the way we live, it’s generally only when life as we know it is interrupted that we think about the small things that make it what it is.
What unites us, is much greater than what divides us
We have a long involvement with HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe) and their president Jan encouraged me to write a post for their upcoming newsletter. I could not disappoint him, but where to start? There is so much happening in the world at the moment and not all of it is good.
After the Storm
It is not just the weather that’s been stormy, and although the winds are calming, at least for now and power is being restored, there’s still a lot of clearing up to do. This may describe events post Storm Eunice – but it could be said to describe this phase of the pandemic.
Emotionally Based School Avoidance
Back to school - but for some children and young people, it’s not that easy. For some, the New Year signals a fresh start and new challenges. Schools are welcoming students back despite the continuing COVID19 disruption; doing their best to safely teach, support and care for their students. But for other students taking that step back into the classroom will be hugely overwhelming. So much so that despite their very best efforts they simply won’t make it back the first week...or the week after.
Take time for a rest
A roller coaster, a carousel, a roundabout... These come to mind as we look at summing up this last term. And if you’ve ever experienced any of these fairground or playground rides you’ll know they can leave you with mixed feelings; exhilaration and excitement together with dizziness and slight nausea. Read more
One Kind Word: Anti-bullying week
As we start the week with a nationwide focus on anti-bullying, it is important to remember that children and young people living with chronic health conditions are more likely to be victims of bullying than their peers (1).
Mental Health in Schools: What Next?
A conference last week organised by E-ACT Ideas in partnership with TES, Mental Health in Schools: What Next? brought together a varied range of speakers who are clearly passionate about changing perception and practice around mental health in schools.
There is something odd about identifying a specific day or week to focus on mental health and wellbeing. Surely, something so fundamental to everyone deserves more than a brief moment in the spotlight. However, the increased awareness and openness to talk about mental health may well be partly down to these awareness-raising days.
The sun is shining; the temperature is rising...it must be the start of the new school year. The mixed summer weather of grey skies, middling temperatures and downpours has broken for this first full week back and the weather map shows a big yellow sun. School summer holidays often feel sandwiched between early summer sunshine and trepidation. Nervousness at whether the summer respite will bring relief and refreshment followed by anxiety at what awaits us as we step back into the classroom.
As another unpredictable school year comes to an end what can we learn? Endings allow us to look back. If we take the time to reflect and consider I’m sure we’ll all find examples of courage, resilience, creativity and endeavour. Every person, family, school and community will have a story to tell. This is what we see looking back at one school – Chelsea Community Hospital School. read more
Everyone has been affected by this pandemic, there's no question about that. Though it's often easier to think about what we've lost or missed out on, the most remarkable things to come out of this pandemic is the creative and innovative solutions people have come up with. The need to continue to connect and create together has given rise to some exciting projects. One such project is Camp in the Cloud. Find out how Over The Wall are making sure they continue to support children and young people over the summer. read more
A chronic illness is wearing. It isn’t going to go away soon. It isn’t something that can be cured after a course of treatment. Chronic illness is long term and affects a person’s physical and mental health. Conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Disease, Crohns or IBD, Diabetes, Asthma and Epilepsy are all chronic health conditions that impact the lives of many school, college and university students.
As schools prepare for more students to come through the doors it might be a good time to reflect on what has been almost a year of life with Covid-19. Most of us never imagined many students would spend the year mainly learning at home or those attending school would be learning under restrictions that stifled collaborative learning experiences or the development of friendships.
Though it’s often easier to see what Covid-19 has taken away, its well worth looking at what it has helped to develop.
As the school term and 2020 draw to a close it seems a good time to stop and reflect. Who could have imagined that school would become the kitchen table, the bedroom or a quiet corner somewhere? Instead of playtime and chats on the school bus, friendships would be kept alive through Instagram and TikTok. It’s been a year like no other for everyone. Read more:
Check out our updated Learning at Home resource page.
Although schools and colleges have resumed face-to-face teaching some students will need to self-isolate for periods of time due to Covid 19, while others living with chronic health conditions may be advised by their health teams to continue their learning from home.
An insight into teaching at a London Hospital School during these most unusual times. Chelsea Community Hospital School (CCHS) now has seven sites spread across the borough of Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the City of Westminster in London, UK.
I am the lead teacher at one of CCHS’s new sites.
As many children and young people gradually return to school over the coming weeks there is one thing we can be sure of, they will all have had a unique experience of the recent period of lockdown. This experience will inform how they feel about returning to school and what support they may need to manage the transition back to learning in the classroom.
Phoenix Education Consultancy wrote a blog post for us on the findings of their survey exploring children and young people's views on returning to school as lockdown is lifted.
Here are some Resources on Supporting Children and Young People with SEND which we we think can supplement the work many schools are providing. We will be reviewing and adding to this resource list over the coming weeks.
During these days of heightened anxiety due to the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) the Well at School team will continue to bring you information and advice that can help support school staff and parents and carers. We will be updating this blog post as the situation develops with information, advice and resources that reflect the situation being faced by those working with and caring for children and young people, both at home and at school.
The picture is complex. This is the overall finding of the report on the wellbeing of children and young people today. For those working with young people in schools and other settings, this is unlikely to come as a surprise...Read more
For anyone working with young people, this recent report from the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) will make an interesting read. It uses routinely collected national datasets to give a national picture of the quality of physical and mental healthcare currently provided, and how patients with mental health conditions use these services. Read more...
Steve Lowe from the Oxfordshire Hospital School explains their new self-evaluation tool developed by the Medical Needs in Schools project. MniS is a collaboration between Oxfordshire Hospital School and Children’s Psychological Medicine – Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Read more...
Parents/carers of children living with chronic and acute medical and mental health needs face a range of challenges getting them the best care and support. Read more here...
With its 30 recommendations, the Timpson review of school exclusion gives us plenty to think about. Read more.
Assistant Heads from CCHS recently attended the ‘Integration and Inclusion for Children with Medical Conditions in School’ conference in Oxford.
Want to know more about low mood and depression in young people? The University of Reading and FutureLearn course Understanding low mood and depression in young people provides an accessible introduction to the subject.
With the current focus on wellbeing and mental health programmes being delivered in schools, this podcast from ACAMH (The association of child and adolescent mental health) may be of interest to those working in Primary Schools.