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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School

 

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Education Re-imagined: 

One of the questions we have been asking is "What have we learned from the pandemic that can improve the education experience for children and young people with chronic health conditions?"
I
nitially we asked school staff at a London Hospital School and then more broadly through social media.
Finally we asked an international audience at the at the bi-annual HOPE conference in Italy in May 2023.

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 What we found out:

  • Online teaching benefits:  
    Online education was seen as a valuable option for students who are unable to physically attend school or leave their homes due to health conditions. It provides flexibility and accessibility for these students to continue their education remotely. 

  • Increased socialisation through online activities:  
    Online platforms can be used to facilitate social interactions and help include students who are unable to physically attend school. These activities promote engagement and a sense of belonging among students. 

  • Importance of building positive relationships:  
    Establishing positive relationships with both students and their families is crucial. This fosters trust, enhances communication, and ensures that the needs of the students are met effectively.
  • Student-centered approach: 
    It is essential to understand and consider the perspectives of the students themselves. This approach helps in tailoring the educational experience to their individual needs, preferences, and circumstances. 

  • Professional development for technology skills:  
    Teachers need adequate training and professional development opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills in using technology for teaching and learning purposes. This ensures that they are equipped to deliver effective online education. 

  • Ambitious approach to attendance and engagement:  
    Encouraging regular attendance and active engagement in learning is important. Motivating students to participate and remain involved in their education can positively impact their academic progress. 

  • Link between teacher-student relationships and academic engagement:  
    Some respondents observed a correlation between positive teacher-student relationships and increased student engagement and academic progress. Nurturing these relationships can have a significant impact on student outcomes. 

  • Flexible lesson structure:  
    Adapting the structure of lessons to accommodate different needs, such as flexible start times, shorter lessons, and addressing challenges promptly with interactive elements like games, videos, and puzzles, can enhance student participation and focus.

What Next?

We saw innovation and reflection during the pandemic and as restrictions eased there was a willingness to do things differently and question established ways of doing things. However although things may be perceived differently at an individual level, this does not necessarily translate to a systemic or policy level.

Children with acute or chronic health conditions still face barriers to education and we still have much to do to bring about lasting change, but by keeping this conversation going, education can be reimagined to create a more equitable and supportive environment, making sure all children have access to quality education regardless of their health circumstances.

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)