Support for children and young people with medical conditions

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 have made to support children and young people with medical conditions?

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 in order 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 to do so)
  • Schools should develop a policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions that is reviewed regularly and is readily accessible to parents and school 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 it will be carried out.  Headteachers, school governors and responsible bodies should make sure each child with a medical condition has an IHP and that it is being carried out.

Further information about IHPs, what should be included within these and other useful information about 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. It is important to note that 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 inform an EHCP, particularly in relation to Sections C and G (Health needs and provision).

What arrangements do the Local Authority need to have in place to support children and young people with medical conditions?

Local Authorities are required to follow the statutory guidance document ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs.  The key responsibilities contained within this include:

  • Local authorities must arrange suitable full-time education (or as much education as the child’s health condition allows) for children of compulsory school age who, because of illness, would otherwise not receive suitable education.  This relates to children and young people who are declared medically unfit for school by a medical professional.
  • Local authorities should provide education for absences of 15 days or more. This can be consecutive or cumulative (ie built up over a period of time).  For shorter periods of absence, schools remain responsible for providing education.
  • Local authorities should liaise with appropriate medical professionals to ensure minimal delay in arranging appropriate provision for the child
  • Local authorities should ensure that the education children receive is of good quality, addresses the individual, and allows them to reintegrate successfully back into school as soon as possible
  • Local authorities should have a named officer responsible for the education of children with additional health needs, and parents should know who that person is.  Within Norfolk this is Sam Bartram, Medical Needs Coordinator.
  • Local authorities should have a written, publicly accessible policy statement on their arrangements to comply with their legal duty towards children with additional health needs.  Within Norfolk this the Norfolk County Council statement on supporting children who are unable to attend school because of health needs.

What if my child is too ill to attend school?

Your child’s school should be looking at ways to ensure that your child is 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.  In certain instances, 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) Norfolk County Council commission the Short Stay School for Norfolk (SSSfN) to provide a service for children that are unable to attend school due to health needs.  In order to access this service, your child’s school need to make a referral to the SSSfN including a letter from the relevant medical professional indicating that you child is unable to attend school due to ill health.  This service are able to provide home tuition to children and will work closely with schools, with a view to reintegrating children when they are able to return to school.

Further information

If you require any further information or have any questions relating to the information on this page, please contact Sam Bartram, Medical Needs Coordinator.