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School Beckons For Sick Kids Too - Canterbury

Tue, 1 Feb 2005

School Beckons For Sick Kids Too - Canterbury

A sick day might be tempting for those students reluctant to go back to school, but a lot of children with serious illnesses or injuries already have a lesson booked with a teacher on Monday.

In their case, they’ll be having lessons at home or in hospital with teachers from the Southern Regional Health School.

Over 320 students were admitted to the School in 2004, including 159 students from the Canterbury-Westland region.

The Telecom-sponsored school is responsible for ensuring sick children throughout the South Island continue learning when they are unable to attend their usual school for an extended period.

Principal Chris Parsons says the school already has 73 students on its roll for the start of the 2005 school year.

“Our students have a range of medical conditions and most spend about six weeks on our roll.

“We’re probably the only school which is pleased to have a low school roll, however, because it ultimately means fewer sick children,” he said.

The school has 18 teachers based throughout the South Island. They spend about two-thirds of their time teaching in children’s homes, as well as teaching children in hospital.

As part of its sponsorship of Health Schools, Telecom provides teachers with laptops and wireless networking cards so the laptops can be used as mobile teaching tools. In addition, the School is using Telecom’s SchoolZone, a service specially designed for New Zealand schools that offers high-speed internet access, safe browsing, email, virus and scam filtering, website hosting, and videoconferencing. The service enables students and teachers to link up virtually anywhere.

Mr Parsons says this technology is invaluable, particularly as the School’ s teachers travel about 90,000kms each year to teach students in the community.

“Telecom’s technology gives our teachers the ability to provide students with access to online resources, whether they’re in a hospital bed or at home, and transfer school work between the student, our teachers and their regular school.

“The technology also helps teachers to engage and motivate students, and keep students in touch with classmates at their usual school,” he said.

Mr Parsons says students respond extremely well to the Health School system.

“Because each student’s educational and health needs are different, our teachers develop an education plan in consultation with the student, their regular school teacher, parents and medical practitioner.

“Students often benefit from this approach because they can work one-to-one with a teacher and focus on their specific learning needs,” he said.

Telecom customers can help the Southern Regional Health School obtain additional computer technology and equipment simply by calling 123 and nominating to sponsor the school through Telecom’s School Connection programme. Telecom distributes $10 million to New Zealand schools and Early Learning Centres through the programme every year.

For more information, please contact:

Chris Parsons Principal Southern Regional Health School Phone: 03 366 6739 Mobile: 027 458 1014 Email:

Brett Jackson Sponsorship Advisor Telecom Phone: 04 498 9271 Mobile: 027 488 7808

Southern Regional Health School facts

• The Southern Regional Health School is one of three Health Schools (formerly Hospital Schools) established by the Ministry of Education in 2000 and sponsored by Telecom. It has its headquarters in Cardale House in Christchurch.

• Southern Regional Health School teachers are also based at Dunedin Hospital, Invercargill Hospital and Nelson Hospital.

• The school admits students from Year 1-13 who: - are unable to attend school due to illness – they may be in hospital or at home for a period expected to exceed 10 school days - have had, or are likely to have six hospital admissions in a twelve month period - have had repeated school absences due to ill health exceeding (or likely to exceed) 40 days per year - need support to return to school after hospitalisation and/or recuperation/rehabilitation at home


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