Ditcham Park School supports frontline NHS staff and international research teams

16th April 2020

Staff working in the science labs, design and technology classrooms and IT have all helped to support the national COVID-19 response.

Boxes of visors, goggles and glasses used by pupils in science and design and technology at Ditcham Park School have been given to Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Laura Hoad, Head of Science and Alan Richards, Head of Design & Technology gathered and boxed up their classroom stocks ready to be given to clinical teams looking after COVID-19 patients in St Richard’s and Worthing Hospitals.

Mrs Hoad said: “I knew our goggles and glasses would make a difference and help NHS teams provide safe patient care during this very difficult time. We were pleased to pack them up and make this donation.”

Mr Richards gathered the DT visors and goggles and used the school’s 3D printers to start producing additional bands. He said: “Thanks to colleagues at Stamford and Oakham Schools and at Techsoft, we now have a design we can laser cut – the bands not the actual visors – and production rate has increased significantly.

“We asked parents to share a message to see if people had a 3D printer at home or supplies of materials and our families and friends rallied quickly and got producing. Two pupils in Form 2, Laurence and Oli, have produced large numbers of bands between them which is an outstanding effort considering each one takes approximately three hours to make.

The school’s Council of Governors has two serving members of NHS staff working at Western Sussex Hospitals; Gethin Hughes, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Consultant Physician Lorraine Albon based at St Richard’s Hospital. Dr Albon said: “I wish to extend my professional and personal thanks to staff and pupils at Ditcham for this donation. All the items have been prepared for clinical use and have been distributed across the hospitals. The teams here are very grateful.”

Our IT department is assisting scientists gather evidence about COVID-19 by allowing access to unused computer processing power. IT Technical Manager, Ryan Cracknell, explains “We have started using Folding@home software which allows us to share our spare processing power to help scientists around the world research potential cures to fight the virus. The Folding@home project is focused on disease research and the problems being solved require vast quantities of computer calculations which is why they need the extra capacity. When school closed, our inhouse requirement for processing power dropped dramatically and it was an easy way we could support the national effort and help find a cure.”

Headmaster Graham Spawforth said: “I am very proud of the way our staff, pupils and families have supported our call to action to help the NHS. In addition to these donations the school has been open and caring for the children of parents who are our Key Workers. Ditcham Park School is doing its bit to support our Key Workers and the NHS in the fight against the coronavirus.”