Rosemarie Hilditch: Teacher retires after 42 years helping sick kids at The Whittington keep up their education
PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 August 2017
As a kid, one of the advantages of being in hospital is not having to attend school. Or so it would seem.
For 42 years, Rosemarie Hilditch made sure no child spending an extended time period at The Whittington would miss out on their education.
Last month, she retired as headteacher of New River College Medical, the hospital’s educational arm. It delivers teaching direct to the ward, and in some cases, homes of children recovering from injury, illness or surgery.
Rosemarie, who taught thousands of pupils over her four decades at The Whittington, laughed: “I would teach on the children’s ward between 9.30am and midday and 1pm and 3.30pm – so there was no escape from school with people like me around.”
In a slight career change, Rosemarie joined the hospital’s education department in 1975.
"There are children lying there unwell and I wanted them to help them. I enjoyed the challenge of teaching both primary and secondary pupils, and helping distract them from any pain they were feeling"
“I was a qualified primary school teacher,” she said. “I was working in Barnet, where I’m from, but I wanted something different from my career. I always told people it was because I wanted to marry a doctor. It didn’t happen.
“There are children lying there unwell and I wanted them to help them. I enjoyed the challenge of teaching both primary and secondary pupils, and helping distract them from any pain they were feeling.
“I preferred it to working in schools, and it shows that I was in the job for 42 years.”
Rosemarie would also do home visits for Islington children, such as those recovering from cancer treatment.
Of New River College Medical’s work, she added: “It’s so important. If children are missing school for a long time, and they return having missed key learning, it can obviously have a big impact. Hospital education helps plug those gaps.”
Rosemarie retires with Ofsted’s full approval. In three successive inspections, going back to 2006, the service was rated “outstanding”: highest on a scale of four.
The latest report, in July last year, gushed: “You and your staff, including those who engage in home tutor support, demonstrate a real sensitivity and consistency of approach when working with young people across the school.”
And Rosemarie said: “My colleagues were a great support. It makes me very proud to leave on that note.”