Hospital schooling service ‘outstanding’
Published: Wednesday 26th January 11
A Wandsworth Council-run educational service for children suffering from serious medical and psychiatric illnesses, as well as those with severe and complex emotional needs, has been hailed as one of the best of its types in the country.
The Wandsworth Hospital and Home Tuition Service provides education for vulnerable students with a wide spectrum of medical and emotional needs who require greater support than is readily available in mainstream schools.
In addition to providing tuition and schooling to children in hospital following surgery, and those receiving in-patient psychiatric care, the service supports young people who are disabled, have hearing difficulties, eating disorders or have experienced teenage pregnancy.
A recent inspection of the service by schools and education watchdog Ofsted concluded that it was "outstanding" across the board - with every one of the 24 individual categories that make up the overall ranking rated "outstanding". It is believed to be the first time ever that this type of specialist service has received a clean sweep of top scores in an Ofsted report.
According to the inspectors: "Wandsworth Hospital and Home Tuition Service is a most special and visionary provision. It offers its students outstanding levels of education and therapeutic care.
"All aspects of its work are outstanding, reflecting the sheer dedication of the staff who are committed to changing and improving the fortunes of young people, many of whom face severe difficulties and traumas in their lives.
"In all aspects of the service, students are making outstanding progress and many are reaching levels of attainment that are not only significantly above the national average, they are also far in excess of what was forecast when the students' varied and often complex medical and mental health issues were diagnosed.
"Care, guidance and support are outstanding. Excellent partnerships involving education, care and health professionals ensure high quality outcomes. Extensive work is done to promote healthy and safe lifestyles and safeguarding arrangements are outstanding.
"Other outstanding features include the engagement of parents and carers, the quality of the curriculum, especially the care taken to meet individual needs and the richness of extra-curricular provision, and the work to promote equality of opportunity and tackle discrimination.
"The students' progress is further helped by outstanding teaching. Assessment procedures are excellent. They are detailed, yet pragmatic, and staff are exceptionally well informed about the needs and abilities of each student.
"Students learn exceptionally well because they are expertly and sensitively taught by staff with detailed subject knowledge.
"These are remarkable outcomes given their circumstances. The service has a proud and improving record of enabling Year 11 students to perform well at GCSE as well as enabling them to progress to higher level courses."
The service was, in the view of the inspectors, "making an outstanding contribution to the students' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development".
Around 250 young people receive support from the service each year. These students receive tuition in a variety of settings, including St George's Hospital and Springfield Hospital. Students come from a wide range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, and are drawn from across the country as well as locally.
The rating comes just weeks after Ofsted awarded the council's entire children's services department an "excellent" four star rating. It was the sixth year in a row that the department had earned the maximum score across the board - rendering Wandsworth as one of only three local authorities in England to have achieved such high marks over the same timescale.
The watchdog judged that children living in the borough attend good primary and secondary schools, enjoy high quality early years education and childcare and benefit from strong and effective child protection systems.
The council's education spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey hailed the latest Ofsted report as "a richly deserved and glowing accolade to the skills, hard work and dedication of the staff who provide this vitally important service."
She added: "For parents whose children are in hospital or have complex medical and emotional needs that prevent them from attending a mainstream school, it must be hugely reassuring to know that this specialist service is providing their children with such a good education."