Shaun Booth, Assistant Headteacher and SENCO joined Pinderfields Hospital PRU in January 2019 after working for 15 years in ‘mainstream’ education. Shaun shares his experience of working with a clinically vulnerable cohort of students. Shaun also wrote another blog back in December about providing remote education to vulnerable children.
The beauty of working for a Hospital PRU is that it’s never the same two days running. I think that this is true of a lot of schools, but very much so at a hospital provision.
The COVID-19 pandemic, as expected, has had a heavy impact on all of our students, particularly the many who are deemed clinically vulnerable. In turn, throughout the course of the past year, we have reviewed and amended our usual procedures in order to rise to the challenge of keeping our students safe and cared for as we deliver their education. Getting this right is incredibly valuable, as many of our pupils have already had their time in school disrupted for medical reasons throughout their lives.
Since the latest lockdown was announced, we’ve been better prepared to hit the ground running. The Headteacher, Helen Mumby, Governors and myself have worked with staff to ensure this. Since all of our students are classed as vulnerable, we have remained fully open throughout and the majority of our pupils have remained in attendance. All of the provisions that were installed during the previous lockdowns had to be reactivated, but this time we had the added bonus that everything was already in place and ready to go.
The students who were initially without computers or laptops have all been catered for and are able to access online provision via the Government offer. In parallel, all staff have had CPD on online provision, and have continued to deliver a fantastic programme of blended learning, often teaching lessons to students in the classroom and students at home at the same time. It really has been a privilege to see how hard they have worked with all students.
Throughout the pandemic there has been much more focus on working as a team to ensure that we have the right risk assessments in place to be confident in the safety of both staff and pupils. For students coming into the school building, we ensure that everyone is temperature checked, that handwashing is frequent and that distancing is adhered to wherever possible. We also offer home tuition to children who have been in hospital and are unfit for school on discharge until they are well enough to go back to their school.
The main way my role has changed is that, even more so, safeguarding and well-being has taken an even bigger focus. This is something that is always at the forefront of what we do, but now is an even greater consideration. During lockdown we make sure we have daily contact with all of our pupils, allowing us to instantly support them and their families. We also undertake doorstep visits to those pupils studying from home, as part of our commitment to safeguarding and wellbeing.
I liaise with the medical professionals looking after our students to create robust plans to support them and try to be in classrooms as much as possible, supporting staff and speaking to students to see how their day is going. This is a real positive for me as working with small groups means that, although students may not be studying with us for long, we get to know them and their families really well in that short space of time.
We are very proud of the work that we do with students across the Wakefield District, and have many success stories of students who have come to us having missed a lot of time in education, who leave us with qualifications and their wellbeing much improved.
Get help with remote education
The Department has published a package of remote education support for schools on GOV.UK, including guidance and resources to support pupils and students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Find out how to apply for government-funded support to help you access one of two free-to-use digital education platforms, G Suite for Education or Office 365 Education, and access to support from the EdTech leaders and Demonstrator Network at Get help with technology on GOV.UK.