Life skills learning in a hospital school

Published

Ash Villa is a hospital school connected to an NHS inpatient unit for young people who are experiencing problems with mental wellbeing. Patients are aged 11-18 and remain at the Lincolnshire hospital for differing periods of time while undergoing assessment and treatment. Their stay can be a few days, weeks, months or longer, depending on their needs, and it is important that their educational needs are catered for during this time.

Ash Villa has recently started offering post-16 provision – the academic needs of this group ranges immensely, with many being high achieving students working on AS level, A level and BTEC qualifications. For a variety of reasons others are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and are working at differing levels but still require an interesting challenge in school to educate and boost their confidence.

Sue Makevit, Ash Villa's head of post-16 provision, came across ASDAN’s Lifeskills Challenge platform and immediately liked the look of the website, which is easy to navigate, bright and engaging. The challenges had something to offer all of their learners, who also enjoyed exploring the user-friendly platform.

One of the learners, Lucy, came to the hospital school as a Year 12 student, having signed up for a college course that she was not well enough to complete. She had many hurdles in her life and began to lose focus and confidence in herself, and for a time chose not to attend school at all.

Sue said that, as an animal lover, Lucy was immediately drawn to Petra, the unit's Pets As Therapy dog. "I thought it would be a nice incentive for Petra to accompany Lucy to school," Sue explained. "Through Petra I was able to introduce Lucy to the Lifeskills Challenge website and the Knowledge and care of pets activity.

"Lucy loved the way that the challenges had short and achievable objectives. She was robust enough to complete these in her own time and felt that the end goal was reachable. She also enjoyed negotiating the website with me and choosing her next challenge. As a former art student, she is very talented at presentation and design and took great pride in designing a wall poster to show how she had worked with Petra in demonstrating to others how to care properly for animals.

"Lucy went on to complete another challenge about road safety and was on the verge of completing a third when she was discharged from Ash Villa. These challenges also gave Lucy the confidence to start working toward Functional Maths and they dramatically improved her attendance in school, making her an active member of our community."  

Two other students, one in Year 12 and one in Year 13, completed the Grit and resilience challenge at Level 1. Both were high achieving ex-grammar school students and thoroughly enjoyed the task of thinking about how their own grit and resilience had helped them over difficult hurdles in their lives. Both students were more than capable of achieving at Level 1 and actually worked in much greater depth, extending their learning to show a deeper understanding. This made Sue think about how she might bridge a gap in which challenges are currently available via the website. 

“I have many students who are very academic but not well enough to commit to a long-term study programme. The stress is too much," she said. "That is why I attended the ASDAN training workshop, to enable me to develop and tailor challenges to my students’ individual needs. As part of next year’s school target, I am planning to develop challenges to a higher level. Level 2 and Level 3 would be ideal because there is already a huge variety at the lower levels.

"ASDAN gives me the versatility and creativity I need to support all of my learners, regardless of level. I am also now looking at the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness for our higher level students who are not currently in education."

If you are a hospital school and want to find out more about how you can use ASDAN programmes and qualifications to aid the development of learners, please get in touch.