18 Jul 2022

It’s the end of the academic year 

Ellern Mede Ridgeway

It’s always a strange feeling – the end of the school year in a hospital school – because, whilst school closes for the summer break, our young people don’t get to have the summer off. The hospital still carries on with no break for mental illness.   

Yet, there is still an ending happening, even if it’s not in its usual form, leading to another transition. And like with any point before the transition, it is a time to reflect on the academic year that’s passed.  

Something I have had to keep reminding myself is that we started the year until Christmas believing that we would be going back into lockdown at any moment. Lockdown for young people already ‘locked down’ is very disorientating. Limiting human contact, covering our faces with masks, absences from staff and students due to isolation did have an impact. Our job relies heavily on the relationships we build (or do not give up building) and this cannot be done behind a computer screen. Looking back, I’m proud of the way we, as a school, navigated this unprecedented time. However, all of us were very happy when we could all occupy the same space in our little school again. 

Just as we started to accept that the lockdown days were over – we had our OFSTED inspection in February. In my time at the school this was our third one, and on a personal level the scariest as Covid had seriously interrupted our progress with bringing the school in line with the 2019 OFSTED framework. But we did it! The team pulled together, and our school shone for what it is, achieving our third consecutive ‘outstanding.’ The HMI said as he delivered the rating: ‘this school restored my faith in humanity.’ This was an outstanding that I felt belonged to our amazing school team, and those words I have written on a post-it note and stuck on my office wall. 

We have over this year crafted a strong teacher development programme and will be enhancing it further in the next academic year. We’ll be delivering the ECF programme, two of our teachers will be applying for QTS, I’ll be starting my NPQH. Every year brings the opportunity for us to be better at what we do. 

Endings, transitions, new beginnings – the cycle continues even at a hospital school.  

As the teachers leave for their summer break, we will be setting our objectives for September with one unmovable goal that continues year in and year out: to deliver the best education possible so that our young people are not educationally disadvantaged because of their illness. 

I wish everyone a lovely, restful summer. 

See you in September. 

Samreen Shah 

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