MissingSchool launches Australia-first National Insights for Education Directories

MissingSchool was featured in an article from Third Sector. To view the original article click here.



MissingSchool launches Australia-first National Insights for Education Directories


Australia-first digital hub launches at the intersection of health and education to help remedy school isolation.

COVID-19 taught the world a vital lesson. Children can – and must – stay connected to their schools, teachers, and classmates to overcome the negative impacts of school isolation during a health crisis.

Turning “school can’t” into “school can” for up to 1.2 million Australian students at risk of ongoing school isolation due to complex medical and mental health challenges, not-for-profit MissingSchool, is proud to launch the Australia-first National Insights for Education Directories (NIEDs).

NIEDs take the form of a groundbreaking one-stop digital hub. In full development, it will empower parents, carers and teachers with trustworthy just-in-time linkages, information, and resources related to health impacts on students’ school outcomes to keep learning and well-being alive from anywhere

MissingSchool CEO and co-founder, Megan Gilmour, says NIEDs’ activation of a powerful alliance of organisations at the intersection of health and education, will put reliable and actionable information in the hands of the widest support team for students facing complex health challenges (and, inevitably, chronic absence).

Gilmour is issuing a rallying cry to over 500 medical, health, mental health, and support services across Australia to follow the lead of HeartKids, the first organisation to sign up to the NIEDs directory and wider alliance.

“NIEDs is a game-changer for students facing chronic school isolation due to complex medical and mental health conditions, which are on the rise globally,” Gilmour said.

“The goal is to prioritise the learning and wellbeing journeys of these disadvantaged students alongside their peers by supporting families and teachers at the point of pressing need.”

Gilmour, recently invited to add her voice to the United Nations SDG Action Campaign [Find out more here], said World Children’s Day – UNICEF’s annual day of action for children – this year embraces the theme: “For every child, every right”.

Importantly, she added, school is a right for every child, with the United Nations placing good health and education third and fourth on its priority list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, addressing the world’s biggest problems by 2030.”

“Knowledge is indeed power… and so is presence,” she said.

“Telepresence technology is part of the picture. Just as schools provide wheelchair ramps, they can also adopt synchronous telepresence technology to offer students absent in a well-being crisis continuity of classroom access, consistent curriculum, equality of opportunity, and learning alongside peers.”

“Telepresence enables teachers to teach lessons once. Telepresence cures absence.”

NIEDs form part of MissingSchool’s groundbreaking initiative, Seen&Heard, launched as a one-year pilot in February, with the help of a Commonwealth grant and seed funding from TPG Telecom Foundation.

Building on the success of Australia’s first school telepresence service, the not-for-profit is rolling out a suite of digital support services, offering real-time assistance to students and their families; training teachers; fostering peer support, and producing world-leading research.

HeartKids CEO, Lesley Jordan, joined Gilmour in encouraging other organisations to sign up for NIEDs.

“Currently, many children, teens, and young adults within the HeartKids community have no choice but to swap their classroom for hospital school, home study or no schooling at all,” Jordan said. She added that at least 1 in 100 school-aged children live with Childhood-onset Heart Disease, which takes many complex forms and impacts every individual differently.

“The one thing that all HeartKids share is that the condition is lifelong, meaning school adjustments and teacher education is paramount, as is the commitment and flexibility to deliver a ‘normal’ school life for every student.”

According to Jordan, school absence differs from child to child, ranging from weeks to months, depending on their treatment plans, surgical procedures or follow-up.

“This is why HeartKids is excited to join MissingSchool in launching NIEDs and driving the message home that continuous connection to school, teachers and classmates is vital to ensuring children don’t fall behind and reach their full potential in life,” added Jordan.

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