For health reasons, many children and young people are unable to attend regular school classes for a long period of time. But sick students also have a right to school education in Germany. That is why there is a school for the sick at most children's hospitals. The Ferdinand Krüger School in Bochum-Linden is one such school. In addition to the regular school subjects, career-oriented MINT courses have also been part of the program for two years, because the Ferdinand Krüger School works closely with the zdi network IST.Bochum.NRW. A success-story.
From persistent developmental disorders to personality and behavioral problems to severe depression - the young patients at the Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the Helios St. Josefs-Hospital in Bochum-Linden have different mental problems. In the clinic, they are supported in stabilizing themselves, and solutions are sought together for a healthy future. If a child or young person is in clinical treatment for more than four weeks, then attending a school is obligatory for the sick person. The lessons at the Ferdinand-Krüger-School are a piece of normality for the patients and the opportunity to be able to continue as seamlessly as possible in the regular school as soon as they can take part in regular classes again. The possibility of being able to continue to work on the learning material is very important for the patients, because absenteeism from regular classes and the resulting pressure to perform could definitely intensify mental illnesses.
STEM workshops - a welcome change from everyday clinical practice
The clinic, the Ferdinand Krüger School and the zdi network IST.Bochum have been working closely together since 2019 to offer children and young people special learning content. The practice-oriented STEM courses and workshops at IST.Bochum offer young patients a welcome change from everyday clinical practice: “Children and young people in day clinics usually have a well-planned and often strenuous day at the clinic. Therapy sessions, school and in the evening in the corridor briefly exchange with other patients", says Raphaela Meißner, head of the zdi network IST.Bochum.NRW. “MINT offers can help to break up this standard everyday life. So, together with Gaby Klussmann, we came up with the idea of offering the students extracurricular educational opportunities in addition to the regular classes.”
Schools for the sick in NRW
If a child or young person is in clinical treatment for more than four weeks, then attending a school is obligatory for the sick person. There are a total of 61 schools for the sick in North Rhine-Westphalia.
For many years, Gaby Klussmann was a teacher at the Heinrich von Kleist School, to which IST.Bochum is attached. Four years ago she switched to the Ferdinand Krüger School, which she got to know through visiting her own students. Together with 11 other colleagues, Klussmann teaches the patients the so-called core subjects, i.e. mathematics, German and English. Depending on the type of school, additional foreign languages or compulsory electives may be added.
"We want to teach and encourage our students in such a way that they don’t miss the connection in the main school subjects and can return to everyday school life more easily.” The teaching materials are supplied to Klussmann and her colleagues by the students’ respective home schools. In some cases, the team at the Ferdinand-Krüger-School compiles the tasks individually for the respective level of learning.
"Since we at the Ferdinand-Krüger-School focus on the core subjects, we have looked for ways to offer the students an additional learning opportunity. And so the idea of working with IST.Bochum came up' said Klussman. The course content is designed by IST.Bochum, and the measures are then carried out by employees of the zdi network in the Ferdinand Krüger School, with the presence of social pedagogues from the clinic and sometimes also by teachers from the school. "We are, so to speak, the heavily interested supervisor'" adds Klussmann with a laugh. Necessary safety precautions are taken in advance and the speakers are briefed. Basically, only students who are in a stable condition take part in the courses.
Future prospects in the STEM field
When designing the courses, the focus is on the fun factor, explains Klaus Trimborn, employee of the IST.Bochum: "We would like to offer the students courses that grip and inspire everyone in terms of content. Courses that also appeal to students who are not STEM-savvy. That's why the courses at the Ferdinand Krüger School focus on independent work, creativity and fun, and less on programming. For example, we implemented Lego or model house building courses.” In addition, the students are offered future perspectives in the MINT field, because the offers of the IST.Bochum are career-oriented and are financed with zdi-BSO-MINT funds, Raphaela Meißner adds: "The fun factor is really very important, then study and career orientation works automatically."
Six courses have been implemented in the past two years: four during school hours and two during the holidays. So far, the offer has mainly been aimed at students at secondary level I: "In this phase, the students can benefit most from the courses, e.g. with a view to the choice of advanced courses in the upper school' said Klussman. "That's why we're concentrating on secondary level I for the time being. But there are ideas about opening the courses to other age groups.“ The opportunity to attend practical MINT courses is a welcome change for patients. The IST.Bochum courses are always fully booked and the feedback is consistently positive. "We have found that shy students thrive in the courses, understand facts quickly and independently and work on their projects with bright eyes' said Klussman. "Of course, it is particularly important in the clinical context that the patients can have positive self-experiences and that their self-confidence is strengthened."
Due to Corona, some measures had to be canceled during this year's Easter holidays, which caused long faces for everyone involved. But the planning for further STEM courses at the Ferdinand Krüger School is in full swing, says Raphaela Meißner: "As soon as it is possible again, further STEM workshops are to be implemented with the patients."
The Ferdinand Krüger School is also happy about this. "We have seen how great the offers of the IST.Bochum are for our children and young people here“, enthuses Gaby Klussmann. "Really everyone here is excited. That is why we very much hope that the cooperation will continue and, in the best case, even be expanded. It would be nice if we could develop more offers for the different age groups, i.e. also for elementary and high school students. We had also spun around whether a weekly double lesson as a working group would not even be possible.The IST.Bochum is also interested in implementing a regular format.
A win-win situation for everyone involved
The cooperation between the zdi network IST.Bochum and the Ferdinand Krüger School is an enrichment for everyone involved: The patients learn something about MINT and MINT professions and also have a little more variety in everyday clinical life, the IST.Bochum opens up a new target group and implements BSO measures, the school is happy about the expansion of its own offer and the clinic benefits from the positive self-experience of the young people, which strengthens the therapy measures. Klussmann, Meißner and Trimborn agree: the concept has a future. And copying is expressly permitted.