Around Australia every day, tens of thousands of kids with serious illness are at home or in hospital, watching from the sidelines and missing school

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some will miss days and weeks, others will miss months and even years

Yet they are not just missing school, they are missing out on much more. Students who face the double burden of illness and school absence face a variety of challenges in their education and may experience a range of adverse short-term and long-term consequences. Academic achievement may be hindered, school relationships can be disrupted, motivation and engagement diminished, and isolation from the school community and peer group can have a profound effect on the student’s social and emotional wellbeing.

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MissingSchool recognises that significant school absence for kids can be caused by illness and treatment relating to Arthritis, Asthma, Blood Disorders, Brain Injury, Burns, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, Eating Disorders, Epilepsy, Heart/Liver/Kidney Disease, Injury, Rare Diseases, and Transplants. But there are many more illnesses and we need to understand more about school absence patterns for specific illnesses. Because the failure to maintain academic continuity and engagement with teachers and peers leads to many of the problems kids experience when they return to school.

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MissingSchool’s objective of keeping seriously sick kids connected arises from the view that school is a kid’s community. Connection to this most important community is a source of support which can alleviate the stress and anxiety of sickness, promote resilience and optimism, and encourage seriously sick kids to remain positively engaged in all aspects of their present and future. Importantly, to have us remember that there is more to who they are, and their life, than being sick. Medicine is saving and prolonging kids’ lives but our education systems are lagging in their support and we urgently need change.