The Portland Hospital and The Harley Street Clinic, both part of HCA Healthcare UK, have teamed up to open a private hospital school for paediatric patients.

This new school, operated in partnership with the Chelsea Community Hospital School, is intended to help children continue their studies during their stay in hospital, thereby supporting the transition from and back into the school environment.

Two primary school teachers, working closely with the hospitals’ therapy teams,  are available onsite five days a week, while a secondary school teacher, specialising in maths and science, visits the sites two afternoons a week.

The school currently supports long term inpatients too.

Every child is analysed individually by the teachers, and then given a learning plan to ensure he/she can learn at his/her individual pace and level. 

The hospital also works closely with each child’s permanent school. Reports would be sent to the child's school regularly to update it on the child's progress. This in turn is expected to ease the child's reintegration to the classroom.

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Operating for the normal school year from September to July, it follows the national curriculum.

Further, the school is regularly examined by Ofsted to check whether it meets the required standards.

The Portland Hospital therapy services manager Claire Dunsterville said: “We are already seeing the benefits of the school – the children can’t wait for their lessons and they’re so keen to learn. Not only does it help to normalise their daily life and provide routine but it is also supporting their rehabilitation programmes as well. We’re just at the start of our journey, and we’re really excited about growing and developing the school over the coming years. Moving forward we want to create a dedicated school room where the children can be together and benefit from the social side of learning too.”

Chelsea Community Hospital School principal Janette Steel said: “Education in a hospital setting is so important as it has a normalising effect on childhood development. We find parents really benefit from the school too. We have an IT specialist who helps the children create videos which they can upload on to our website so they’re families can see what they’ve been up to in hospital, as well as interact with them during their stay. This plays such an important part of the rehabilitation process.”