School and education when your child has cancer
School and education when your child has cancer
There are three Regional Health Schools in New Zealand, with administrative centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The priority for Regional Health Schools is to ensure that students with high health needs receive education, regardless of where they live or where they are receiving their health care.
Regional Health Schools
There are three Regional Health Schools in New Zealand, with administrative centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Regional Health Schools were established by the Ministry of Education to provide a teaching service for students with high health needs. The schools are for children who are in hospital, convalescing at home or in the process of returning to their regular school.
The priority for Regional Health Schools is to ensure that students with high health needs receive education, regardless of where they live or where they are receiving their health care.
For more information, including the criteria for accessing the Regional Health Schools, see:
Is the education in a Regional Health School the same as a regular school's?
Yes. Teachers in Regional Health Schools are New Zealand registered teachers who work with students both in hospitals and in the community. They comply with the National Education Guidelines and deliver adapted programmes that incorporate the New Zealand Curriculum. All students receive an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) developed specifically for them by the Regional Health School teacher.
How do I enrol my child in a Regional Health School?
After your child's cancer diagnosis is confirmed, the hospital will refer you to a teacher from the nearest Regional Health School. The teacher will talk with you and your child, with the teachers at the regular school and with the healthcare professional team in order to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
Regular school: attendance and absence
When a child is receiving assistance from the Regional Health School, either as an inpatient at the treatment centres or when convalescing at home, they remain on the roll of their regular school.
Depending on the treatment protocol, they may be able to attend the regular school part-time or full-time throughout treatment. Some children may require one or two days a week away from school during treatment; some may attend school daily for part of the day only; some may have an absence of one or two months.
The teachers of the Regional Health School will help students to transition back to their regular school. A child attending regular school part-time while convalescing at home will have their Individual Learning Plan (ILP) supervised by a community Regional Health School teacher.
When should my child return to their regular school?
School re-entry is better if it happens as soon as possible following diagnosis. Your child's usual life routines contribute to their sense of wellbeing. An early return to school will allow them to stay connected to their normal life and is a critical step in the rehabilitation process.
How can I best support my child’s return to regular school?
Continued contact with classmates and school friends during hospitalisation will help make school re-entry successful. You can encourage this ongoing social contact by helping your child's regular school teacher with some of the ideas on pages 18-19 of the Child Cancer Foundation's booklet A guide for teachers of children or young people with cancer: Teacher resource. You can ask your child's nurse for a copy.
The following are some other suggestions to help make your child's re-entry to regular school successful. These may be helpful for you, your child and your child's regular school teacher. Ask your child’s nurse to help you manage these:
- encourage your child to continue school work during their time in hospital
- arrange for your child to attend regular school whenever it is possible and they are well enough
- be prepared to adjust your expectations knowing that learning achievements may be influenced by disease and treatment effects
- you need to tell your child's teacher if there are changes to your child's treatment schedule
- keep your child informed about plans for re-entry to school and let them help make decisions about the different ways of attending regular school
- ask at school for physical education programs to be modified for your child and involve them in decisions about participation
- if you think it would be helpful, ask your child's physiotherapist for a wheelchair to use in the playground
- request changes to the school day (such as part-time attendance) if your child feels the need or if you see the need
- ask if a quiet place can be made available at school, where your child can rest when tired
- ask your child's nurse for a copy of the Child Cancer Foundation's booklet or download a copy (A guide for teachers of children or young people with cancer: Teacher resource)
Where to go for information and support