What a year it has been for us at MissingSchool! As we approach the end of 2023, it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the remarkable journey we’ve undertaken together over the past year.
Our first point of celebration has to be the students with complex health challenges, for whom we work. It’s their determination and resilience that propels us forward to make sure they are seen and heard in every school across Australia, every day.
We are grateful for the excellent interactions with families, schools and our partners. Our collective efforts have increased school connection for students with complex health challenges, helpline support, awareness and understanding, policy progress, and evidence for what works. These efforts are a testament to everyone’s desire to have a positive impact in the lives of so many amazing kids.
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
Making School Connections
One of our proudest achievements has been our engagement to support 126 students with school connection, connecting 59 kids through assistive technology in line with the Disability Standards for Education. And we have laid a solid foundation for the future through a strategy for targeted outreach to more than 9,500 schools (including hospital schools) across Australia and over 500 community organisations working on child and youth health matters.
We received 112 enquiries and our daily family and school helpline, staffed by specialist personnel, has supported 110 schools and 127 families, through more than 7,000 helpline interactions. Our helpline has been complemented by an online parent support forum, through which we’ve delivered 37 weekly parent information webinars, and regular information posts.
Engaging Siblings and Peers
We’re especially proud of reconnecting over 1,770 classmates this year through support to students with complex health challenges who are absent. And we’ve been working on production of empathetic peer animations for roll out in primary and secondary schools across Australia in Q1 2024 to increase positive peer connections.
Mobilising Support Organisations
In October we launched the Australia-first National Insights for Education Directories (NIEDs) a groundbreaking digital hub with searchable directories and qualitative insights for families and educators. We partnered with HeartKids to launch NIEDs, and look forward to activating a nationally coordinated approach by putting reliable and actionable information in the hands of the widest support team — forging a powerful alliance for student wellbeing.
We completed foundational work for our educator forum and scalable digital training. We finalised our teacher training strategy, engaged specialists, and developed content and competency frameworks. The launch of the teacher professional development forum is planned for early 2024, and we are excited about the possibilities through this new way of engaging with amazing teachers at the frontline of education for students with complex conditions.
In February we launched the Don’t You Forget About Me film and our national social education campaign which put our mission in front of more than 13 million Australians. We achieved earned media across reputable, positive outlets showcasing wellbeing for students, families, teachers and school leaders, including: ABC News Breakfast, The Guardian, Channel 10 News, Campaign Brief, Third Sector, Education Today, A Current Affair, and the cover of QWeekend Magazine (Courier Mail). This year we delivered 45 weekly newsletters sharing insights, stories and resources (thanks for reading!).
Our social media activity reached audiences of ~1.7 million and, with dedicated SEO services, we’re making it easier for families and schools to find us. The doubling of our website traffic ushered in the launch of our new website where we are adding resources, research, and information daily to support our services, advocacy and efforts.
The successful implementation of our pilot, ongoing data collection and evaluation, readiness for research, and calculation of our Social Return on Investment (SROI) demonstrate our commitment to the cause. Our competitive SROI of $3.40 per dollar invested means, this year, we’ve realised close to $1.5 million dollars in social returns to our community.
So, we look forward to an exciting and purposeful 2024, starting with the January launch of our new national campaign, then continuing collaboration with partners and supporters Australia-wide. We especially want to thank you, our community, for your unwavering belief in kids with complex health challenges, and our mission to help them stay connected.
Wishing you, and your special people, safe and happy holidays!
At MissingSchool, we believe in the power of community to empower everyone. Together, we can foster an environment where every child feels like they belong. It would be impossible for us to stay the course without your incredible support. There are many ways to help:
- follow along and cheer us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- share this newsletter with your family, friends, or colleagues so we can support more kids, and
- donate towards getting kids with complex conditions back into their classroom.
Every action moves us closer to the finish line: a world where every child is seen and heard at school.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.
Let’s keep connecting.