The purpose of this paper is to show that the “Back on Track” program is designed to support students with a chronic illness (usually cancer) to maintain contact with their school and peers whilst undergoing treatment, to promote socio‐emotional wellbeing and to facilitate the ease of return to school when they are well. An evaluation of the program occurred in its first year.
A clarificative evaluation approach was used. This involved collecting data about the elements of the program design and implementation to understand and make explicit the logic of the program. It comprised three stages: documenting the program design; gathering stakeholder feedback about the experiences in the program; and reviewing the program logic of the design and implementation approaches.
The program (“Back on Track”) actively engaged teachers, parents, students and Program staff in negotiating strategies to keep the students (patients) connected with their school and peers whilst undergoing hospital‐based treatment for their chronic condition, in this case cancer, and when recovering at home before a full return to school. Difficulties emerged with the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as one of the key program components in keeping the students connected. There were also differences in views between the Program staff, schoolteachers and some of the students and their parents about the ongoing role of the Program once students had returned to school.
The paper indicates what is needed to enhance the implementation and success of programs such as “Back on Track” for this group of young people who have significant chronic illnesses, which necessitate prolonged absences from school and separation from peers.
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