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Megan

Megan Gilmour

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Australian Capital Territory Education > General
Health And Medicine > General
To investigate education system models for maintaining school connection for seriously sick children - UK, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Belgium
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The Churchill Fellowship has enabled me to showcase approaches used in Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom and two provinces of Canada to support education, social and emotional connection for sick kids.

My findings are an excellent resource for my advocacy work in the Australian context and will inform governments, educators, medical staff, and organisations involved in the care of sick kids. While the challenge of educating sick kids produced consistent themes across countries, including Australia, discoveries included critical solutions that Australia is missing. At the same time, there was wide variability within and between countries in applying these solutions.

We can now take our vision from a country that does this best. In this country exists:

  • joint education-health legislation that is customised for sick students, they are counted and their right to an education on equal terms to their peers is upheld
  • responsibility is owned by the regular school for education services informed by joint policy (including for digital connection) dedicated to sick students
  • joint education-health benchmarks for education services for sick students where personnel have specific competencies and standards that are regulated
  • jointly led processes and procedures to manage, administer, and fund a systemised service at school/hospital/home, matched with staff training
  • joint tracking of absence and risk, with absences managed and kids and families engaged, supported and connected throughout the whole education journey. 

Which country? This could be Australia by 2020.

Australia can innovate on continuous school connection for students with serious illness. We don’t have to lag or iterate. We can advance on best practice from overseas, and we can leap.

In 2015, MissingSchool took this problem and drove it on to a national agenda for the first time. This earned Prime Minister’s attention, and the attention of a nation through media all over the country. We urged the Commonwealth to commission the first government report on this issue and advised on its methodology. We are now intervening at school level with an Australian-first pilot for real-time digital connection for sick kids to their classrooms. The funding for this Australian pilot was received from St.George Foundation through whom I prepared and pitched the pilot concept while on my Churchill Fellowship travels.

I will press my Churchill Fellowship findings through Australian schools, children’s illness groups, conferences and fora, information to parents/carers, educators, and health practitioners, government submissions, the media, online platforms, professional associations, reference groups, research organisations, social media, members of parliament, and Australian education and health departments and ministries. The connections I made in overseas countries begins a global movement to meet this challenge.

The highlight of my discoveries was to find so many people deeply and passionately committed to keeping seriously sick kids educated and connected to their schools. People who said that this work is the most important they have done. People who asked me to connect them to each other. People who urged me to keep going and bring them along.

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