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Education support for students with health conditions

  • Staying connected to school, kindergarten and learning

    To achieve the best possible educational outcomes, children with health conditions will need ongoing and coordinated support from their family, health professionals and school or kindergarten. 

    It’s a good idea for parents to meet with a coordinator, well-being teacher, deputy principal or other appropriate staff member to work out the expectations and responsibilities of everyone involved in your child’s care. It is also valuable to establish a key contact person at your child’s school or kindergarten for ongoing communication.

    Families should decide what the best method of contact is between home, school and the hospital (e.g. face to face meetings, phone calls, teleconferences or email), and work with the school or kindergarten to organise who is responsible for sharing information about your child’s education with who, in what way, and when. 

    It's important to regularly communicate with the school or kindergarten about how your child is coping at home and at school or kindergarten, including how they are going academically, socially, physically and emotionally.

    Families should decide what and how much information your child would like to share about their condition with staff, classmates and the wider school or kindergarten community. Your child needs adequate care and support at school or kindergarten, but it is also important to respect your child's right to confidentiality and privacy. 

    Talk to the school and your child’s health care team about professional development opportunities that will help teachers better support your child.

    More information about staying connected with school can be found on the Education Institute website.

    Supports available at school and kindergarten

    Support services

    There are a number of supports available at schools and kindergartens that may be beneficial for students with health conditions. Parents can discuss how to access the following support services with their child’s enrolled school or kindergarten:

    • Student Support Service Officers (SSSO)
    • Well-being staff
    • Specialised kindergarten supports
    • Modified learning plans
    • Visiting Teachers Service (VTS)
    • State Schools Relief and other financial assistance

    More information about these support services can be found on the Education Institute website

    Students with disabilities and additional learning needs

    All education providers must meet the Disability Standards for Education. Your child has the right to take part in all education courses or programs on the same basis as their peers. Your child may need some reasonable adjustments to make sure they can take part.  In addition to the services listed above, there are further services to support students with additional needs:

    • Additional funding (e.g. Program for Students with Disabilities, Kindergarten Inclusion Support Program, Early Childhood Early Intervention)
    • Student Support Groups (SSG)

    More information about support services for students with disabilities and additional learning needs can be found on the Education Institute website. 

    VCE and VCAL students

    The senior years of school can be challenging, so if your child has a health condition and is completing VCE or VCAL, additional supports might be needed. You and your child may need to be open-minded about alternative pathway options. The Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA) offer the following special provisions for students with health conditions:

    • special exam arrangements
    • derived examination score
    • compassionate late withdrawal
    • interrupted studies
    • emergency exam arrangements

    Students applying for entrance into tertiary courses via the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) who have had their studies negatively impacted by a health condition should also consider applying for the Special Entry Access Scheme.

    More information about support services for VCE and VCAL students can be found on the Education Institute website. 

    Learning at home and in hospital

    Learning promotes wellbeing and development, so it is important to set aside time for learning activities even when your child is unwell. There are many literacy, numeracy and online learning tools that students can use to continue learning from home or in hospital. 

    The Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute (RCHEI) provides group and individual learning sessions for eligible students during inpatient admissions to the RCH.  Speak to your health care team for a referral to this service.

    Tutoring is also an effective way of helping students who have fallen behind their studies due to health conditions.

    More information about learning at home and in hospital can be found on the Education Institute website.

    Returning to school or kindergarten

    There are a number of factors that need to be considered when your child returns to school or kindergarten after an absence due to a health condition.

    Gradual Return

    Students often experience physical and cognitive fatigue after treatment for a health condition. Negotiate an adjusted timetable for your child when they first return to school or kindergarten.

    Return to school plan

    A return to school plan developed by the school or kindergarten, student, family and health care team, outlines the modifications and reasonable adjustments required to support your child in their return to school or kindergarten.

    Student Health Support Plan (SHSP)

    Working with your school or kindergarten and health care team to develop a Student Health Support Plan ensures that your child can receive the required care for their health condition when they return to school or kindergarten.

    Ongoing appointments

    Communicate with your school or kindergarten so they are aware of how ongoing appointments may impact attendance.

    Fitting in

    Many young people are anxious about returning to their school or kindergarten environment and fitting in with their peers.  Helping your child to keep in touch with friends whilst in hospital or at home can help to alleviate some concerns.

    More information about returning to school or kindergarten can be found on the Education Institute website.

    Key points to remember

    • For the best possible educational outcomes, your child will need ongoing and coordinated support from their family, health care team and school or kindergarten.
    • Maintain regular communication with the school or kindergarten regarding how your child is coping at school or kindergarten and at home.
    • Relevant information about your child’s condition should be shared with appropriate school or kindergarten staff.
    • Additional support is available – talk to relevant school or kindergarten staff.

    For more information

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    Who is responsible for providing curriculum support to students who are in hospital or recovering at home?
    The school or kindergarten in which the student is enrolled retains responsibility for the student’s curriculum when they are too unwell to attend school or kindergarten.  The Department of Education and Training (DET) Victoria Curriculum Continuity Policy details the responsibilities of educators in supporting students with health conditions.

    If my child needs to stay in hospital for long periods, what support is available in hospital for their education?   

    The Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute provides group and individual learning sessions for eligible students during inpatient admissions to the RCH. Speak to your health care team for a referral to this service.  If your child is being treated elsewhere, ask your child's nurses or doctors what resources may be available during your child's stay. 

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Education Institute.

    Reviewed July 2020.

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.

Disclaimer  

This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.