What it’s like to start the school year in hospital

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Sydney 2000
How hospital school worksIt is a legal requirement that each student admitted to hospital attends school.Students who attend SCHS have a shared enrolment between their census school and hospital school.Each student is assigned a case manager (teacher).Students can attend classes or have a ward teaching service when required.The school works with medical personnel to create a personalised educational and health plan. Rather than walking through the gates of Gymea Technology High School in Sydney’s south this week, Olivia has instead started the year at the Sydney Children’s Hospital School in Randwick.”I’ve been coming here since I was in year one,” she said.”I have constant lung infections which bring me back into hospital, to bring back up my lung capacity.”Olivia was born with cystic fibrosis — a lifelong condition that affects the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems.She is hospitalised at least four times a year for up to three weeks at a time. (ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
“I definitely find it hard,” the 17-year-old said.”It is a bit stressful at times, because when you go back you’re either behind or you’ve caught up with everyone so you go back like nothing has ever happened.”On a typical hospital day, Olivia spends the morning with doctors and attends physiotherapy sessions, before attending class for a few hours in the afternoon.Some days though, when there are multiple students with cystic fibrosis, she has to be isolated to avoid any risk of infection and taught one-on-one at her bedside.Coordinating health and educationThere are 10 hospital schools in New South Wales, including the children’s hospital schools in Westmead, Bankstown, Royal Prince Alfred, St George and Liverpool.The hospital school at Randwick enrols approximately 1,200 students a year, ranging from kindergarten to year 12.There are three teaching classrooms for primary, high school and adolescent mental health patients. it’s a lot better than hospital food!” (ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
One of the objectives of the Sydney Children’s Hospital School is to create some “continuity and normality for hospitalised students”.For Olivia, this week that has meant working on her biology assignment, which involves dissecting a sheep’s brain and learning about measuring gasses in the blood — a process she is more than familiar with.She also hopes to find time to get into the hospital school kitchen to practice cooking for her favourite subject, hospitality.”I like cooking casseroles and little salads,” she said.”It’s good to take up some food back to my room … (ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
Principal Lynda Campbell said the school’s seven teachers are responsible for working with the medical teams, connecting with the student’s census school teachers and helping them transition back once they leave hospital.”These teachers have a passion for these kids and a huge empathy to make sure these kids get the education they need,” Ms Campbell said.”They have to navigate around a health plan, navigate what a young person’s needs are, and put all that into the one [educational plan] and look after themselves as well.”When you’re working daily with a student one-on-one who is going through a lot of complexities, there’s a different level of teacher-student relationship.”No ease on homeworkOlivia said she was determined to complete her HSC this year, rather than take up the option of spreading it over two years via the Department of Education’s Pathways program.”It’s kind of a battle with catching up, but my teachers are very supportive,” she said.”I also have dyslexia, so a disability when it comes to reading, so I’m a bit slower catching on.”I just want to get my schooling out of the way … and next year I can just concentrate on my health.”

Olivia says she is considering a career in the hospitality industry. Photo:
The Sydney Children’s Hospital School caters for students in kindergarten to year 12. With nimble and sturdy fingers, Olivia Wood smooths glittery purple contact over her new school books with the aid of a sharp ruler.The technique — passed down by her sister — may be a familiar one among most HSC students, although the classroom in which Olivia sits in comes with some extras.There is a small library, a science wall and computers around the room, but also extension power cords that hang from the ceiling and plug into Olivia’s intravenous drip. Photo:
Rosemary Kingsford has been Olivia’s hospital teacher and case manager for 12 years.
ABC Radio Sydney


Amanda Hoh


February 02, 2017 11:29:32

Video: Olivia's typical day in hospital

(ABC News)
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(Supplied: Steve Murphy) Mr Andrews said despite often venturing out into arid areas, he is yet to see one of the birds.”That really shows how rare they are, because as the Threatened Species Commissioner, I’m in a very privileged position where I get to see and interact with some of Australia’s rarest animals and plants,” he said.The Commissioner expects populations will continue to recover as government programs crack down on their main predator — the feral cat.”I really encourage Australians to get online, look at the page, learn about the parrot and then when they’re out in the bush; keep an eye out, keep an ear out and you might be lucky enough to spot a night parrot,” Mr Andrews said.’Know your native animals rather than celebrities’Mr Andrews said it was disappointing Australians know more about celebrities than some of the country’s unique wildlife.”I have no problem with Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian, but it does worry me that more Australians know who they are than know what a bilby, a quokka, a quoll or a night parrot is,” he said.”I would certainly like more Australians to know what a night parrot is than Kim Kardashian, or what a bilby is than Justin Bieber.”Mr Andrews said it was becoming more difficult for people to see native animals in the wild, but he believed there was still hope, because on a recent family holiday, his eight-year-old daughter was lucky enough to see a bilby.”Night parrots share very similar habitats to bilbies, so my hope is that my daughter — and all Aussie kids — will be able to see a night parrot in the wild,” he said. Photo:
The spinifex habitat of the night parrot.

(Suplied: Steve Murphy) By Khama Reid


February 02, 2017 13:34:30

The bird is so rare that even the Threatened Species Commissioner has not seen one.
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Listen to the call of the night parrot

(ABC News)
Australians are being encouraged to keep an eye and an ear out for a desert bird that is so rare, even the Threatened Species Commissioner has spotting one on his bucket list.The night parrot was once assumed to be extinct, but sightings in recent years have stirred up hope the population is recovering.Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews has worked with scientists to launch a night parrot conversation website, to raise awareness of the bird and help people recognise it.”It’s a nocturnal bird, so it’s very cryptic and very few people have seen a night parrot in the wild,” he said.”They’re a very cute and small green parrot, they live on the ground, they’re very hard to find and the best way to find them is through their call.”