Falling behind with schoolwork and losing touch with school friends is often a big concern for children and young people diagnosed with cancer. Although their health needs to be the main priority, enabling them to continue developing and learning during their treatment is also vital.
I actually really like school and the fact that I had to put my education on the back-burner made me feel really frustrated.
Your school can help a child or young person get the best education fitted around their needs, and minimise isolation from school and friendships.
Education can continue at school, home, hospital or online. A Personal Education Plan can help coordinate arrangements between school staff, the pupil and family as treatment progresses.
Cancer and school life pack
Our award-winning Cancer and school life pack has been developed specifically for schools where a child or young person has been diagnosed with cancer. It is designed to help teachers communicate confidently with schoolchildren about childhood cancer, as well as help pupils understand the illness and how they can support their classmate.
The pack contains:
- A lesson plan
- DVD to show during the lesson
- Guidance notes to help you prepare for and deliver the lesson
- Overview of childhood cancer and treatment
- Factsheet for pupils about childhood cancer and treatment (this can be photocopied)
- List of useful resources.
No two experiences are ever the same
Treatment for cancer can last a short or a long time (typically anything from six months to three years), so a child or young person may have periods out of school, some planned (for treatment) others unplanned (for example, due to acquired infections).
When they return to school your pupil may have physical differences due to treatment side effects. These can include:
- Hair loss
- Weight gain/loss
- Increased tiredness
There may also be longer term effects such as being less able to grasp concepts and retain ideas, or they may be coping with the effects of surgery.
The emotional and psychological impact
Treatment for cancer can also have an emotional and psychological impact. Children and young people may find it more difficult to cope with learning, returning to school and relationships with other pupils. They may have spent more time in adult company, having more adult-like conversations than is usual, gaining new life experiences and maturing beyond their peers.
As a teacher you can help and support your pupil and their family and friends, both during treatment and in the months and years to follow.
Resources for teachers
CLIC Sargent produces a range of resources to designed to help you talk to pupils about childhood cancer and how they can support a classmate who has been diagnosed. Please complete our publications order form to place your order free of charge.
Updated December 2015. Next planned review 2017.