Our History


​​Queensland's rich and pioneering tradition in hospital education has driven the development of a state-wide network of hospital education programs, which together celebrated 100 years of hospital schooling in Queensland in 2019. Across its campuses and in partnership with its regional programs, the Queensland Children's Hospital School is continuing to facilitate the delivery of quality education to children and young people affected by hospitalisation, including siblings, across Queensland.

 Origins of the Queensland Children's Hospital School

The Sick Children's Provisional School opened on 11 August 1919 at the Hospital for Sick Children in Brisbane, which later became known as the old Royal Children's Hospital. By 1926, the first school building was instituted at Herston; a building imported from Victoria Point State School. Through decades of progressive and dedicated service to sick and injured students, the school gained notoriety as a leading specialist education institution. In his book To Teach the Sick: The Hospital Schools of Queensland (2009), Professor John Pearn (AO) later described the school as a 'centre of excellence for the provision of uninterrupted teaching.' 

Artwork by students of the Royal Children's Hospital, in 2005, for the 130th anniversary of the Hospital. Photo by Professor John Pearn (2008). Reproduced with permission.


The Mater Children’s Hospital opened in 1931, administered by the Sisters of Mercy, who also began informally teaching many patients. This practice continued for over 30 years until the first classroom was opened in 1963, with many of the teaching Sisters liaising informally with students’ teachers at their base schools, providing critical support for their continuity of education. In May 1977, the Mater Hospital Special School opened as an autonomous school, with three teachers, and in May 1983, the purpose-built Mater Hospital Special School opened in Clarence Street, South Brisbane — a four storey building including separate classrooms for students of all ages, ‘living skills’ facilities, a library and a grassed play area.


October 2003 saw the opening of a new Mater Children’s Hospital School building on Stanley Street, which is the current Junior Campus of QCH School. Known for its leadership in best-practice special education, in 2005 the Mater Hospital Special School was awarded a Regional Showcase Excellence Award in Education in Inclusive Education, and in 2006, the team were state finalists for the Excellence in Leadership Award.


The Mater Hospital Special School on Stanley Street. Photo by Professor John Pearn (2008), reproduced with permission.


Significant events in our history

The Queensland Children's Hospital in South Brisbane (originally named Lady Cilento Children's Hospital) opened in 2014 — an amalgamation of the Mater Children's Hospital and the Royal Children's Hospital. The opening of the hospital signified the beginning of a new chapter of hospital schooling in Queensland, with the relocation of the QCH School.


The sports houses of the Queensland Children's Hospital School are named after two exemplary figures in the histories of the two hospitals. The abovementioned Professor John Pearn, a renowned paediatrician, served as a senior clinician at the Royal Children's Hospital for 46 years and in 2009, won an Order of Australia (AO) award for service to medicine. He has made significant research contributions in the areas of child safety and welfare, clinical genetics, medical ethics and neuromuscular disease.


Sister Angela Mary Doyle (AO), recipient of many awards including Queenslander of the Year (1989), and Order of Australia (1993), began her career as a nurse before working as a Mater Hospital administrator for 22 years. Sister Angela Mary Doyle is known for her advocacy for research and welfare causes, and like Professor Pearn, is a beloved member of the Brisbane and broader medical communities.



QCHS today

Like all twenty-first century teaching and learning environments, the Queensland Children's Hospital School is continually changing and adapting as new technologies become conventional, and pedagogies emerge and advance.


What has remained consistent through the past century of hospital education in Queensland has been the advocacy for young people to continue and thrive in their education during their hospital stay, by their teachers, their clinical health professionals, community and school leaders, families, and themselves. 


​With thanks to Professor John Pearn for his contributions.

Last reviewed 05 October 2023
Last updated 05 October 2023