A day in the life of a teacher

Rachael Savory is a teacher at the Children’s Hospital School at Great Ormond Street and UCH. 

She lives in west London and has been working for the school for more than 10 years. Rachael teaches children predominantly in Key Stages 1 and 2 (five to 11-year-olds). In February 2014, the school achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted.

The start of the day

It’s often an early start in my house – I’ve got two little boys so I’m up at about 5.30am. My commute to work is probably the quietest part of my day. I start work at the school at about 8.15am, and I come in and prep for the morning. At 9am the staff meet at the table with a cup of tea and we talk about any events and visits that might be happening during the day, as well as sharing key pupil information.

Fun learning

The school follows the National Curriculum, so we offer a balanced programme of lessons. We try to make the sessions really hands on. For example, one week our topic was the Egyptians, so we made water clocks and had a competition to wrap the best mummy. A lot of the children who come to the school have obviously been quite poorly, so the activities are as fun and as welcoming as possible. I think our schoolroom is a happy place. We’re a really fun, inclusive school. People might be a bit worried about coming to a school they don’t know, but I like to think that most people try school and they love it, and they’ll always come back down again to see us. We’re just like other mainstream schools, so we still have the same amount of paperwork and visits from Ofsted. We teach lots of subjects, so the children that come down can try drama, French, cooking and art. We also do lots of fun science experiments.

Establishing relationships

We encourage children to stay in touch with their own schools. We might do a video link with their class – which they all love doing – or send postcards, or make a video diary of their time in the hospital and send that to their class. Pupils always go away with a schoolbook full of the things they’ve been doing. The children at their home schools are often really surprised that they’ve been to school in hospital.

A meaningful role

In the afternoons I might teach on the wards for up to an hour. I usually teach children who I know and have been down in the school. They may have had an operation or some treatment, which means they can’t come down to us at the moment, but they know me. It’s getting that link and that continuity, so they’ve got a familiar face coming up to see them. What I like most about my role is the fact that we meet so many of these amazing children. It’s an inspiration to work with them and I don’t think you get that anywhere else. It’s a real privilege. Every day is completely different. As much as we plan, we might suddenly have a surprise visitor or decide to participate in a special celebration. It keeps us on our toes and it’s one of the reasons why the job is so fantastic.

Packing up

The day goes so quickly you wouldn’t believe. We finish teaching at about 3.30pm. We’ll all have a tidy-up and we’ll often get together in the kitchen: being teachers, there are lots of cups of tea and biscuits. My day normally finishes at about 4.30pm. Outside of work, I try and occasionally get to the gym in the evenings, but my two very busy little boys take up my time.