The Northern Health School was founded in 2000 following a review of New Zealand special education. The role of the hospital class teachers of the time was extended to include home based students recovering from serious illness. These teachers had been either attached to a local school or part of the two hospital schools; Starship and Middlemore in Auckland, but the changes meant they became part of a dedicated health school. Since then the school has grown from a roll of around 150 to more than 520 students in 2010. The growth has been in our community based service, with only 25% of students hospital based now. Students are evenly divided between mental ill health, oncology and other physical illnesses.
How does the service work?
A member of staff will discuss your child's case with you, to make sure that they meet the Ministry criteria for our service. If they do, then they are admitted to our roll and an ILP (Individual Learning Plan) is developed by us in consultation with parents, the school of enrolment, medical teams and any other relevant people. Once in place, the ILP becomes the basis for the child's educational programme which will be implemented according to the needs of the student.
What do we do?
Assess the educational needs of each student.
Provide an educational programme tailored to meet student's needs.
Support the programme through regular contact using home visits, classroom or bedside teaching, post, fax, email and phone calls.
Coordinate and liaise with students, parents, their regular school and any other services involved with the student.
Assist the student to return to their regular school when they are well enough.
- Bedside teaching in hospital
- Classroom teaching in hospital
- Home visits by a teacher
- On-line home visits using our LIVE programme
- Student attendance at a support centre
How does LIVE work?
LIVE is an acronym for Learning in Virtual Environments and involves the use of web camera technology to enable teachers to have an on-line home visit without having to travel to the home. The student and the teacher are connected through the internet and can see each other as well as share a computer desktop. This allows the teacher to observe work the student has been doing and to discuss it in much the same way as being physically there. The student will need a Windows computer, a high speed Internet connection and a phone with a speakerphone function.
What is a Support Centre?
Health School teachers are located regionally. In each of the school's 15 different units, we have a classroom where students who are well enough to travel may come to meet with their teacher and other students. Centres are usually open twice a week for up to three hours and students spend time working on their own individual programmes. Support centres give students the opportunity to meet other students and teachers and can be a great stepping stone in the return to school process.
NHS teachers are based in several centres across the island and from there they cover the school's zone. These include Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Gisborne, Whakatane and New Plymouth. We also have a number of specialist units, such as the Wilson Centre on Auckland's North Shore and Rongo Atea in Hamilton.
The Northern Health School employs experienced, qualified teachers who have received training in working with unwell students.
Student programmes are provided by our own teaching staff, the student's regular school or Te Kura (the Correspondence School). The teacher will design a programme which uses the most appropriate combination of these for each student on their roll after discussions with the student, parents, the regular school and the medical team.