The Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on maintained schools and academies to make arrangements to support pupils with medical conditions. Local authorities also have key responsibilities in championing the needs of these children and young people, and in providing education to children and young people where they are unable to attend school due to ill health. The Department of Education issues statutory guidance for schools and local authorities to follow in relation to children and young people with medical conditions.
What arrangements should my child’s school make?
The key responsibilities for schools within the statutory guidance document supporting pupils at school with medical conditions include:
- Children with medical conditions should be able to access and enjoy the same opportunities at school as any other child
- Staff should undertake appropriate training to provide the support that pupils with medical conditions require
- Staff must not give prescription medicines or undertake healthcare procedures without appropriate training
- No child with a medical condition can be denied admission or prevented from taking up a place in school because arrangements for their medical condition have not been made. However, governing bodies do not have to accept a child in school at times where it would be detrimental to the health of that child or others
- Schools should develop a policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions that is reviewed regularly and readily accessible to parents and staff
- Details should be made available on how the school’s policy will be implemented effectively, including a named person who has overall responsibility for policy implementation
- The school’s policy should cover individual healthcare plans (IHPs) and who is responsible for their development. Individual healthcare plans (IHPs) should be reviewed at least annually
What is an Individual Healthcare Plan (IHP)?
Every child with a medical condition should have an IHP which is readily accessible for school staff. An IHP is an agreement between parents/guardians, the school and healthcare professionals about what care a child needs and how this will be carried out. Headteachers, school governors and responsible bodies should make sure each child with a medical condition has an IHP which is being followed.
Further information about IHPs, what should be included within these and managing medical conditions in school can be found via the Health Conditions in School Alliance website.
Children and young people with a medical condition and Special Educational Needs (SEN)
If a child or young person has SEN and a medical condition, their provision should be planned and delivered in a coordinated way with the IHP. IHPs are not the same as Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), which set out the support needed by children with SEN, although some children may have both types of plan. If a child has both a medical condition and an EHCP detailing provision to meet their special educational needs, they will still need an IHP. The IHP can be used as advice to help with an EHCP, particularly in relation to sections C and G (Health needs and provision).
What if my child is too ill to attend school?
Your child’s school should be looking at ways to ensure that they are supported to minimise the disruption to their studies. For a short-term absence, this might mean sending some work home to complete. This should be as closely matched to the work being completed by the child’s class as possible. Schools may also look at setting work electronically, either via email or via the school’s ‘online portal’ software (if the school offer such a facility). Consideration of using an external e-learning provider may also be appropriate in certain instances.
For longer term absences (ie 15 days or more) we offer educational provision via the Medical Needs Service.
Medical needs coordinator
The medical needs coordinator is responsible for the education of children with additional health needs in Norfolk. They work with schools and professionals to ensure children and young people with medical needs and those who cannot attend school receive a good education.
Services provided by the coordinator
- Parents can contact the coordinator to discuss their child’s specific circumstances. This may be particularly appropriate if they feel their child’s medical needs are not being addressed
- Schools can contact the coordinator to get support, advice and guidance in relation to medical needs
The coordinator will also liaise with professionals and colleagues. This is to ensure children with additional health needs are able to access a suitable education
Contacting the coordinator
Address: County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich, NR1 2DH
Making a medical needs referral
Schools can make a medical needs referral for a child who cannot attend school because of health needs. It must be clear that the child will be away from school for 15 days or more, whether consecutive or cumulative. Medical needs referrals will normally be made by the school where your child is on roll and need to be accompanied by appropriate information from a health professional.
Our medical needs service policy outlines the process for making a referral and all the documentation that will be required. All medical needs referrals are sent to our medical needs coordinator using the contact information above.
What happens next?
Following the acceptance of a referral:
- A planning meeting will be held to decide how provision will be delivered. This will be for an initial period of 12 school weeks (or for the period that your child is absent from school, whichever is shorter). If after this initial period, your child is unable to return to school, further medical advice will be required in order for the provision to continue
Information about how medical needs provision is planned and delivered, along with how reintegration to school can be supported, is all outlined in our medical needs policy that can be found on the medical needs service page.