Penta, a School for Hospital Education in West Flanders, Belgium.

Penta, a School for Hospital Education in West Flanders, Belgium.

The school has undertaken the initiative to address the educational needs of children and adolescents facing medical and mental health challenges. They’ve expanded to include schools connected to hospitals and psychiatric facilities in the region, creating a supportive environment for the students.

Operating under two systems, namely ‘Penta Plus’ and ‘Penta Connect,’ the school provides adaptable educational services tailored to the duration of students stays and their specific medical circumstances.
‘Penta Plus’ includes a primary and secondary school situated at the Belgian coast, for children and young adolescents who suffer from respiratory problems, diabetes and other chronic diseases, with the largest group consisting of students with obesity. Here students have the opportunity to pass their grade or graduate at the end of their stay. The students stay at the school during their revalidation, spanning from several weeks to a year. Within this framework, students have their own individualized plan, but they follow the general curriculum.

On the other hand, ‘Penta Connect’ also offers primary and secondary education in different settings for child and youth psychiatry. Students might stay for just a week or up to several months, depending on what the medical team decides. The mental health issues require an adjusted system of about five hours school a week, resulting in a considerably adjusted curriculum. The decision to pass a grade or to graduate is the responsibility of their homeschool.

Penta’s mission is the delivery of individualised high-quality education, growth-oriented learning and providing a carefree future. Penta focuses on giving quality education to students unable to attend conventional education due to the medical needs. They try to keep things as normal as possible for these students.
The team consists of teachers, student counsellors, administrators, coordinators and principals. They are supported by a team of policy advisors, managed by the strategic director. The teachers have both expertise in their respective academic fields but also in special education. We have a professionalisation program to support new and less experienced teachers.
Penta believes in a growth-mindset to help students grow and learn, focusing on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. They want to make sure every student can succeed, no matter how long they stay at the hospital school.
From the moment the student is admitted they gain information from the homeschool, the medical team, the parents or guardians and the student to create an image. During their treatment objectives are set to take into account the needs of the student and these needs are constantly evaluated and reviewed. Penta stays in touch with their home schools during this process. When the students are discharged this helps to secure a positive re-integration.

With mental health issues becoming more common among young people, Penta understands the challenges of providing education in a hospital setting. They’ve learned from other schools in Belgium and even visited schools abroad to see how they work. In March a team of policy advisors went to visit hospital schools in Turku and Joensuu, Finland, to gather information and look for ways to improve their organisation. Looking ahead, participation in events such as the HOPE Congress in Dublin next year helps Penta’s commitment to maintain a network and collaborate to advance the field of hospital education.

Stefanie Douchy
Policy Advisor Communications and Internationalisation

Home – Penta (




Leave a Reply