‘While I was in hospital, my studies took my mind off what was actually happening and gave me a new outlook on studying and education. It’s all about maintaining those connections to their peers and staying connected to their education.’
The opening of a state-of-the-art school at the new Monash Children’s Hospital will ensure that the hospital’s young patients continue to get a great education regardless of their health challenges. Students like Peter Nekitis who is now busy preparing for his Year 12 VCE exams.
A year ago, he was diagnosed with Stage Four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Peter continued his studies while being treated as an outpatient at the hospital’s cancer centre. He also continued to attend La Salle College in Malvern when he was well enough.
A year on, treatment over and the prognosis looking good, Peter says continuing his education provided him with a vital distraction from his illness, including the pain and discomfort of medical treatment.
‘While I was in hospital, my studies took my mind off what was actually happening and gave me a new outlook on studying and education,’ he says.
‘My illness motivated me to study.’
Peter is now preparing for his Year 12 VCE and planning a career in law. He says the opening of the school will make it even easier for hospital patients to keep their studies on track.
Health investment for our kids
The $250 million Monash Children’s Hospital opened its doors earlier this year, providing life-saving care to kids in Melbourne’s south-east, the Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland.
The Victorian Government has invested $6.8 million in the new hospital school, which will provide educational services to about 170 students a day with serious medical and mental health conditions.
The school includes four flexible-use classroom spaces with a hot-desk area for students, an art room and office space for staff. Students will be able to take part in group activities in the ward, at their bedside or when recovering at home. The new hospital school’s classrooms are equipped with cameras to enable its students to keep ‘virtually’ connected to schoolmates, teachers and home.
School principal Colin Dobson says evidence shows that young people and children who miss out on school for extended periods begin to disengage and fall behind in their learning.
‘It’s all about maintaining those connections to their peers and staying connected to their education,’ he says.
‘The hospital school will provide continuity, which is critically important.
‘It’s a wonderful distraction to get their heads around their studies and their learning as it takes it away from their health worries — they are focused on something different.’
The Government is investing billions of dollars to make Victoria the Education State where every child has access to a great education regardless of their health and personal circumstances.