Teenager from Stourbridge helped to do GCSEs in Birmingham Children's Hospital

A 16-year-old girl from the Black Country has been helped to do her GCSE exams during her stay at the Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Macy Booth
Macy Booth

Macy Booth, from Stourbridge, is at the Steelhouse Lane hospital on peritoneal dialysis – meaning she needs access to a machine regularly.

And in her time at the site, she has done a range of exams from Maths and History – and she has even had revision sessions at her bedside.

She said: "The exams have not been as difficult as I thought actually. The school has been great, they’ve been sending teachers for targeted revision for the exam subjects. They have definitely helped me a lot.

"The experience has been good, I’m on peritoneal dialysis so the nurses know when I have exams and they prepare to take me off the machines in the mornings so that I’m ready to go. The teachers remind me that if I don’t feel up to the exams, I don’t have to take them that day, and they give me the chance to have rest breaks if I need them.

"I think the teachers and nurses are amazing. I’m so thankful they’ve let me do my exams instead of having to wait for the resit. (And) if you do find yourself in hospital over exams, bring your revision materials with you, you’re definitely going to need them."

Teachers from the James Brindley Academy (JBA) have teamed up with the hospital to ease patients' anxiety and allow them to complete their studies. JBA teaches across the city in a variety of health settings, including at Queen Elizabeth and Heartlands Hospital, and there are 18 staff who have worked with 822 students this academic year.

Janine Zablocki, centre leader for hospitals and short-term provision, said: "We aim to provide young people with some normality while they’re in hospital and to reduce the anxiety of missing school. We like to see children keep a connection with their education, even a couple of weeks can be a long time to be missing. The longer they are away from school, the more anxiety can build."

Children can access teachers after their third day in hospital – and JBA will contact the child's school so they keep up with their classmates or can provide their own curriculum, in line with that nationally.

The centre leader added: “It is hard for some children as they have gaps, but because we work with them one-to-one it’s a personalised approach and we see some real improvements.

“It can be challenging. A lot of our teachers teach at the bedside, so they often think of alternative strategies to be able to teach in a small and noisy space. They also are good at making a judgement on whether a child is well enough that day, making their planning really flexible to adapt to different situations.”

“We see children come and go, so the challenge is making sure that a child doesn’t miss out on the opportunity to do an exam if they can. We work hard to minimise the stress, trying to talk through the anxiety so they can do as best they can. It takes a lot of coordination with the NHS colleagues, who are great at supporting us.”

At the children's hospital, children can have access to two classrooms, a kitchen for DT and a sensory room. This also serves as the venue when patients need somewhere quiet to take the exam.

Laura Belikova, secondary science teacher, said: “We make a difference. You make a difference as a teacher anyway, but here you can do so much more for the children. Sitting in a bed all day can be quite depressing, so as well as education you can bring fun and laughter to them, which makes it more special, and many look forward to seeing you.”

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