Kids With Complex Conditions Need More Than Just Workbooks

When you hear “remote learning”, what springs to mind? Before the pandemic, you might have thought of distance education, where students, because of their remote locations, learn from home as they’re simply too far from a physical school.

Fast forward to recent times, and the picture might shift to students worldwide joining virtual classrooms while complying with pandemic public health orders. Yet, it’s a misconception to equate remote learning merely with a package of worksheets or tasks to tackle solo. And we’d like to turn the tables on the terminology. How about we call it ‘learn from anywhere’ instead?


“The school provides work but there’s no instructions given. It’s difficult to be a teacher and a parent.”



In response to our primary question, “What happens now to support the student’s education?”, too often we hear, “The school provides work.” But, learning – indeed education – is about so much more than completing worksheets or learning alone.

For any student, especially those battling complex conditions and extended absences, learning independently without guidance, interaction, and support will be terribly challenging. It may even be traumatic.

As students with complex health conditions, whether at school, home, or in a hospital, are entitled to provisions through the Disability Standards for Education (DSE), here are some questions to consider:

  • Has the school or teacher made the connection between the DSE and medical/mental health condition (and chronic absence)?
  • Do the current educational arrangements for the student align with provisions in the Standards?
  • What other documentation do you need to activate adjustments through the DSE, including school access via assistive devices/technology?
  • Is there an individual learning plan in place to guide and close the gaps in arrangements; if so, is it regularly updated?

Fortunately, the DSE provides for “reasonable adjustments” to enable students with complex health conditions participation in education on the same basis as others, meaning they have the opportunity to:

  • continue studying in the areas of their choice,
  • exercise agency in educational decision-making,
  • participate in classes via assistive devices with associated services,
  • engage with staff, peers and friends,
  • learn across a range of classes and activities,
  • have additional support during transitions,
  • receive timely and fair feedback,
  • access additional learning and wellbeing supports,
  • participate in school life and special events,
  • experience freedom from bullying, harassment, and stigma.

When a student receives support from a hospital school during treatment or medical care admissions, some or all of the above criteria may be fulfilled. When a student is unwell or convalescing at home, merely providing worksheets or work does not satisfy the DSE requirements.



Likewise, telepresence alone isn’t sufficient. It can be a good start when integrated into individual learning plans and supplemented by learning technologies such as Google Classroom, Seesaw, or similar platforms so students with complex conditions can:

  • Participate in classes and discussions,
  • Access instruction and teaching,
  • Learn alongside peers under the guidance of their teachers,
  • Get timely feedback on their work,
  • Join social activities with peers and friends.

Telepresence technologies (think Zoom, Teams, Robots) provide real-time classroom connection – making other actions possible so students can learn from anywhere – as teachers deliver instruction once.

In summary, providing worksheets, educational material, and resources may assist, but there’s so much more to supporting a student’s physical, social, academic, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Ultimately, linking to the DSE can open a pathway to schools receiving more funding to make it happen.

Finally, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing an effective “learn from anywhere” strategy for students with complex conditions. If you’d like to share your experience or need support, please contact our Helpline on 1300 237 234 or reach out to us at

We finish today, as we always do, by acknowledging that our connection to our community is vital, and it would be impossible for us to stay the course without your incredible support.

There are many ways to help:

Every action moves us closer to the finish line: a world where every sick child is seen and heard.

Let’s keep connecting.

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