The Pilgrim Hospital School

The Pilgrim school is Lincolnshire’s hospital school. This means that the school provides education for pupils who are too ill to attend their mainstream school. Pupils have a wide range of needs. Some pupils are recovering from major operations at a regional health centre. The overwhelming majority are seen by CAMHS and have anxiety, depression and suicide ideation. Reflecting a national profile, a significant number of pupils are on the ASD spectrum or in the LGBTQ+ community.


Hospital schools are unusual. There are only 16 in the country. They are usually sited in a hospital! We are not. When I started as head teacher, the school operated as a tuition – outreach centre. There was a learning base in Lincoln but otherwise the school operated from sure start centres, libraries and youth clubs. It was not unusual for a table tennis table to be used as a class desk for group work!

There was no blueprint for what kind of curriculum the school should have. The pupils had normally been out of school for a long time. Many, but not all, pupils come to us having shrunk their worlds to a point where they feel safe and in control. Many critical questions were therefore necessary to embark upon a vision and approach for the setting.  How much work should be based on “educational recovery” and personal development? What should our aspiration be? Was it enough to allow the pupils to re-engage with education or did we want more for them? How much should we allow our facilities to determine our curriculum – we had no science labs or technology facilities. We had a small pool of teachers – should we allow them to dictate our curriculum based upon what they felt comfortable in teaching?    


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