School and education support for cancer patients

There are dedicated programs and a hospital school available to support your child continue their school education during treatment. 

One or a combination of the below options may be used:.  

  • Sydney Childrens Hospital School 
  • Back on Track educational support service  
  • Ronald McDonald Learning Program  

When your child is diagnosed, a Clinical Nurse Consultant (CNC) will contact their school to provide a medical update and introduce the team who will work with the school. They will work on an individualised education plan for your child. 

It is beneficial for your child to try to keep up with schoolwork whenever they can. This will ensure a smooth transition back to school. During HSC, young patients are supported to help them with university entry.  

Patients connect with their school by using an online portal as well as video conferencing tools such as Teams, Zoom or a telepresence robot so that a child on treatment can spend ‘real’ time with their class. 

Sydney Childrens Hospital School 

The Sydney Childrens Hospital School is a NSW Department of Education public school. It provides educational support for hospitalised students or their siblings from both public and private schools.

The school is located on Level 0 and provides a caring educational environment for students from kindergarten to year 12.  

While attending the hospital school, students remain enrolled at their home school. 

Educational programs are individually planned to meet the needs of the student. Visual arts, information computer technology and some recreational activities are also an important part of the program and are offered as appropriate.  

A teaching service is also provided for those students who need to remain on the ward. 

Educational programs follow NESA curricula as closely as possible and are developed according to the individual student’s health. 

School hours are from 9am-3pm, however these hours are flexible so that a child can also attend clinic appointments.  

Back on Track

Back on Track is an educational support service delivered by a qualified teacher in the outpatients ward.

The Back on Track program is funded by charitable donations and keeps student patients connected with their learning whilst they are receiving treatment. 

The Back on Track coordinator offers face to face and remote tutoring sessions. They support patient education from diagnosis through treatment and transition back to school, as well as being there for ongoing long-term support

Ronald McDonald Learning Program  (RMLP)

The Ronald McDonald Learning Program (RMLP) is a national program assisting children with serious physical illness and injury catch up on their school learning. 

The RMLP looks at all aspects of a child's learning and provides support including assessment, therapy and tutoring with qualified professionals. 

All services are provided free to families and each program is tailored depending upon the child's needs, location and family situation.

Most children will receive up to four school terms of one-on-one tuition with a qualified and registered teacher, along with speech and/or occupational therapy if required. 

Going back to school

The education team contacts the school

An outreach clinical nurse consultant (CNC) will contact your child’s school to arrange an appointment and will happily answer questions from teachers and classmates.  

School receives cancer education

The CNC will liaise with your child’s school and speak with teachers and classmates about childhood cancer.

With parent and patient permission, classmates are provided with simple facts about the disease and treatment.  

Back to school meeting

The team will arrange a meeting when a child is returning to school. The school is made aware of the child’s health and education journey during treatment and how to help with a smooth transition back to school. 

Education for teachers on when to call the child's family

Teachers also receive a letter from the CNC describing the side effects they should be aware of and the importance of notifying families if infections such as chicken pox and measles occur at the school.  

Getting support if your child finds it hard returning to school

Many children find it hard to go back to school, especially if they have changes in their body.

Hair loss and weight changes common concerns.

Tell your doctor or nurse if your child is worried about going back to school. The hospital social workers or psychologist may be able to help.

If your child is having problems doing schoolwork, ask for extra help. Your child may require some assistance to catch up with lost learning when they return to school.

There are programs available to assist children with learning issues resulting from serious illness. Your social worker will have information on these programs. 


Last updated Wednesday 26th June 2024