Working with the Great North Children's Hospital

Outreach with the Bridges School at the Great North Children's Hospital.

"Kathryn's sessions have been invaluable to the students that she has worked with at the GNCH. All our students thoroughly enjoy their sessions with Kathryn and are completely enthralled and engaged by what she does with them" - School staff at GNCH


At the Great North Museum: Hancock (GNM) we work with over 25,000 school children in the museum each year however what about those children who are unable to visit us?

In March 2017 we began working with Newcastle Bridges School who have departments spread across the city. They believe that all children have a right to education and the school provides educational opportunities to pupils whose education has been interrupted by mental or physical ill-health, school phobia or pregnancy.

One department is based at the Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) within the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVI) which is a stone’s throw away from the GNM.

The children that we teach at GNCH are there for many reasons: they may be recovering from major surgery, having treatment for cancer, or recuperating from a brain injury. Most sessions take place on the wards at the child’s bedside on a one-on-one basis however when we go onto the day unit we try to create a more social environment and work in small groups.

The Museum delivers history and archaeology themed fortnightly outreach sessions at the GNCH during term-time. The sessions involve handling Museum objects and we cover curriculum topics including British prehistory, Greek mythology and life in ancient Egypt.  The sessions are designed to capture the interest of sick children using a hands-on interactive experience.

This benefits many of the children because using objects is hands‐on, immersive, and experiential. It suits different learning styles and allows the children to engage more senses than just sight, and this can be very powerful.

The work can be challenging because you are dealing with children of all ages, from five to 16, and all abilities from the high achieving academic to those with a profound multiple learning difficulty. When planning the sessions you need to be versatile and able to adapt your teaching on the spot. We used to worry about this aspect but experience has shown me we can deal with most situations.

Working in the Museum is a rewarding job but it’s a real privilege to work in this setting with the young people and their families. It’s a bit of a luxury to teach one-to-one and tailor the session to the individual child’s interests and abilities.

If you would like to know more about hospital outreach then please contact Kathryn Wharton via the email learning@greatnorthmuseum.org.uk

"I really enjoyed Kathryn's lesson. It was very interesting and I'd love for her to come back" - Erin, age 14

"Isabella really enjoyed her lesson with Kathryn. it's not often that  Isabella engages with the learning opportunities when she's in hospital but she really loved looking at the artefacts and doing the art activity. Kathryn has a lovely way with the children" - Isabella's mam

"I like Kathryn's lesson and I would love her to come back." - Danniella, age 12

"The lesson was lots of fun and was made very interesting with stories. Daniel really enjoyed himself and loves to visit the museum regularly. Thnaks you!" - Daniel's mam