A comprehensive report into the challenges facing kids who miss school due to significant injury or illness aims to improve outcomes for an estimated 60,000 seriously ill Australian students. Go here to find the report – School Connection For Seriously Sick Kids: who are they, how do we know what works and whose job is it? – released on 12 October, 2015, at Parliament House Canberra.
The notion of “inpatient truancy” is interesting and perhaps closer to the truth than is immediately apparent. A kid who is playing truant is a kid who is escaping or avoiding being where he is supposed to be, and that’s exactly what every sick kid in his heart of hearts would like to do.
We are excited about new research being undertaken by the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute (RCHEI) which is exploring the gaps in current understandings of the educational needs of children and young people with chronic illness.
Parents of sick kids should carefully consider their child’s individual needs. It’s not that easy to work out what they will be, especially if you’re dealing with a new diagnosis. They might be about absence, mobility, medication, fatigue, pain, nausea (among others) – or they might be emotional, or social. They are all valid.
It is easy to understand that a child with an illness or disability or both may have their education impacted. They might miss periods of schooling but they may also be distracted by pain, worry or medication, especially if the latter has to be administered at school. Often it is forgotten that siblings of these children can face challenges too in relation to their school experience which might result in emotional, social and academic impacts. Their connections with family and with their school might be compromised.
We applaud the efforts of Dave King, from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Dave took on the challenge this year of running a marathon in every state of Australia, to raise funds for the Back on Track program which supports the educational, social and welfare needs of kids undergoing cancer treatment. Back on Track is funded by the Fight Cancer Foundation in Victoria, coordinated by the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute in Melbourne, and provided in NSW by the Children’s Hospital Westmead. Most recently, on 27 July 2013, Dave completed the Outback Marathon in the Northern Territory in just over 4.5 hours. Still to come are the Adelaide Marathon on 25 August (SA), the Ross Marathon on 1 September (Tasmania), and Blackmores Sydney Marathon on 22 September (NSW). Dave is accompanied on every run by a Children’s Hospital Bandaged Bear, a constant reminder of the kids who have inspired him. To support Dave, visit his website at Have Bear Will Run.
Prior to our 2013 Annual General Meeting, MissingSchool is holding a small consultation process to help inform our planning. It will be in Canberra, on Wednesday 26 June from 1.00-3.00 pm. We are inviting people who have useful and informed perspectives to contribute. To join us, call 0400 241 900, or email Cathy Nell. Invitees include: ACT Council of Parents and Citizens ACT Education and Training Directorate ACT Health Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Australian Catholic University Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (Australian National University) Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth Canberra Hospital School Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, University of Canberra Children’s Healthcare Australasia Families ACT Independent Schools Council of Australia MissingSchool management committee and members Parent Support Group, Catholic Education Office Parents and carers of seriously sick kids Pediatrics Staff at the Canberra Hospital People who work with seriously sick kids Ronald McDonald Learning Program and Pathways Project Sydney Children’s Hospital (Kids Cancer Centre & Behavioural Sciences Unit) University of Canberra