Supporting Medical Needs
If a child's health is preventing them from being able to attend their school, the local authority should look to provide them with as normal an education as their health condition will allow.
This may mean, for example, arranging access to home teaching, a hospital school or hospital teaching service, or an integrated hospital/home education service.
Schools should have a policy for supporting pupils with medical needs, that is regularly reviewed. You should be able to view this policy on the school's website. Schools do not need to wait for a formal diagnosis, to provide support to a child/young person.
If the medical condition is unclear, the school should seek further medical advice so that a judgement can be made about what support may be needed.
Local authorities should be in charge of overseeing the arrangements and work with the school and the parent/carer. The local authority should also have a policy setting out how they will go about meeting their responsibilities.
The local authority is responsible for ensuring that pupils:
- are not at home without access to education for more than 15 working days
- have access to education from the start, if it’s clear that they will be away from school for long and recurring periods
- receive an education of similar quality to that available in school
- get their minimum entitlement of five hours teaching per week if they’re educated at home because of illness, as long as their health permits it
Under section 100 of the Children and Families Act 2014, Schools, Academies and Pupil Referral Units “must make arrangements for supporting pupils at the school with medical conditions”.
This duty is owed by the “appropriate authority” which is either the governing body (of a maintained school) or the proprietor (if it is an academy).
The Government has published statutory guidance called “Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions” to explain to schools, parents and carers how this duty should be carried out.
Individual Healthcare Plans
For children with complex health needs:
- an individual health care plan may be appropriate. Talk to your school if you are not sure.
- you will be able to share your views and those of your child. Let school know of any changes to your child's needs so the plan can be amended.
- this plan can also include your child's Special Educational Needs (where an EHCP is not in place).
- although school will be responsible for finalising and maintaining the plan, healthcare and social care or other professionals should be involved in the process.
You can read more in the Supporting Pupils with Medical Conditions at School government guidance.
What if my child has SEND
You can speak to the Senco, Pastoral Support Adviser, School Nurse or your child's GP for advice, recommendations or a possible referral to specialist services. Share all relevant information with school so they have the full picture, and you can discuss next steps together.
When you meet with school to discuss your child's difficulties and to agree a support plan, you can ask about referral options, for example:
- home tutoring
- alternative education provision
- a multi-agency meeting (a way of working with families and assessing needs and involving outside services)
Where support options available to school have been exhausted, a request to the local authority to carry out an EHC needs assessment could be considered if the school requires additional support to meet the special educational needs of the child/young person.
Where a child or young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
If your child's health is preventing them from attending the school named in their Education, Health and Care plan, you should contact the SEND Team at the local authority. It may be appropriate to request an early annual review if their needs have changed and different special educational provision may be required.
An annual review will provide you with the opportunity to let the local authority know about the attendance difficulties, discuss progress being made towards outcomes, ask for further assessment and/or request any amendments you would like to make to the plan.
You will also have an opportunity to request a particular school to be named, if the local authority decide to amend the plan following the review.
Emotional Based School Avoidance
It can be common for children and young people to worry about school at sometime. Experiencing anxiety is part of life and most children will learn ways to deal with this as part of growing up. However sometimes a child’s worries may lead to difficulties attending school. If a child has high levels of anxiety and does not want to attend school, they may be experiencing Emotional Based School Avoidance (EBSA).
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