An Australian and New Zealand review of education support policy and practice for children with chronic health conditions

Year: 2015

Author: Barnett, Tony, Hopkins, Liza

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Children and young people with a chronic health condition are at risk both of disengagement from their regular school and of achieving poorer academic, social and emotional outcomes as compared to their healthy peers. Most paediatric hospitals in Australia recognise this risk and provide support for patients’ educational needs during their hospital stay. In this project we conducted a desk-based web search for state by state evidence of educational policy relating to children and young people with a health condition, both within schools and in out of school settings. This search also looked for evidence of the type, location and duration of education support offered to paediatric patients and learners in Australia. Having identified the major providers of education to children and young people with health conditions in each state and territory, we then conducted interviews with senior personnel in a range of different hospital settings, to determine the similarities and differences in models of education support.
Despite the patchy nature of explicit policy attention given to the issue of education support for hospitalised students with chronic health conditions, in practice every state in Australia as well as New Zealand has programs in place to address these specific educational needs. The programs vary widely in each jurisdiction across domains such as age of eligibility for students, location of service delivery, bureaucratic reporting and accountability structures, types of programs offered and degree of liaison with students’ home schools. We identified a number of elements common to education support services for students in hospital across Australia and New Zealand. In this presentation we discuss the findings from the review and the extent to which elements of ‘good practice’ can be identified for education support programs for children and adolescents managing chronic illness and at increased risk of disengagement from education and learning.