Supporting the educational needs of sick children

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Children and young people with chronic and acute health issues will be able to go to school and stay engaged in their learning, with the Victorian Labor Government set to open a new school at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

The Royal Children’s Hospital School will open in the first half of 2024, providing a full education for kids from Prep to Year 12. Traditional Owners are being consulted about a permanent name for the new school.

Premier Jacinta Allan, Minister for Education Ben Carroll and Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas visited the hospital last week, meeting with interim principal Naomi McBride to announce the Labor Government’s $3.6 million investment in the new initiative.

The new school will ensure children and young people who spend extended periods of time in hospital remain engaged in their learning, as well as supporting them to return to their usual school once they go home.

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“No child or young person should miss out on the vital education they need if they’re unwell – we’re making sure every Victorian child has access to a world-class education,” said Premier Jacinta Allan.

It will provide students with individually tailored teaching and learning programs aligned with the Victorian Curriculum and VCE – using flexible modes of teaching to engage students, including classroom sessions, small group sessions and individual bedside support, depending on individual patient needs.

The school will replace the existing Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute, offering students a broader range of curriculum and education support. The new school – which will be governed by a School Council, led by a principal, and employ teaching and non-teaching staff like all other Victorian government schools – will also expand remote learning opportunities for students who are recovering at home but not yet well enough to attend school.

“Schools are an important part of a child’s support network, and the new Royal Children’s Hospital School will keep students engaged and on track to achieve their potential, Victorian Minister for Education Ben Carroll said.

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Establishing a registered school at the Royal Children’s Hospital will also create a more consistent approach to the operation of Victorian hospital schools, aligning it with other models of hospital-based education in Victoria, such as the Monash Children’s Hospital School.

The state government’s Minister for Health, Mary-Anne Thomas, described the announcement as “an exciting opportunity to build on the work of the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute and establish a world class hospital school in world class hospital”.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]