Education following a childhood cancer diagnosis in Aotearoa : perspectives from children and young people who receive support grants and their family/whānau : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Advances in medical treatment have improved the survivorship rates of children with cancer, making it increasingly likely that schools will encounter children who have or have had cancer. Previous research has shown that the availability of resources to support children experiencing learning challenges as a result of their cancer is limited. Child Cancer Foundation’s Personal Development Grants are sometimes used to fund additional educational support that is not available through the Ministry of Education. This mixed methods study firstly examined the characteristics of children who have received a Personal Development Grant for education, before conducting qualitative interviews with a sample of children and young people who received grants and their caregivers. Interviews explored participants’ experiences of the child’s educational needs following their cancer diagnosis and the specific support provided. Quantitative analysis did not reveal any characteristics that could predict the likelihood of a child receiving a grant for educational purposes. Qualitative analysis identified four overarching themes; the overall impact of cancer on the family; gaps in the existing support provided through the education system; participants’ Personal Development Grant experience; and, the participants’ tendency to focus on the good. This study enables the voices of young people experiencing educational challenges due to their cancer diagnosis and their caregivers to be heard. Recommendations for practice include increased collaboration between families, school personnel and medical teams and promotion of inclusive practices such as Universal Design for Learning in classrooms.