Your views needed on supporting children with medical conditions at school

The upcoming Education, Health and Care Plan that will replace SEN statements, is intended to integrate a child or young person's needs into one statutory document.

It is, however, education-led, meaning that if your child has a medical condition that affects their schooling but not a special educational need per se, they may well not be eligible for an EHCP.

consultation documentInstead, from September 2014 there will be a new duty on schools, governors and local authorities to make suitable arrangements to support youngsters like these, many of whom may miss chunks of their education not to mention school trips through ill health. It will apply whether or not a young person has an EHCP.

A government consultation has just been launched into these new rules. Anyone involved in supporting pupils like this at school - including their parents of course- should read this and respond with their views.

The document provides a mix of statutory guidance and non-statutory advice
based on good practice for supporting pupils at school with medical
conditions. It provides information on developing appropriate school policies and what these should contain.

The new guidance will, it says take account of the government’s, "...commitment to minimise central prescription and bureaucracy and reflects the aim of allowing schools
greater freedom to determine their own arrangements according to local

Key points

  • Pupils at school with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips and physical education.
  • Governing bodies must ensure that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils at school with medical conditions.
  • Governing bodies should ensure that school leaders consult health and social care professionals, pupils and parents to ensure that the needs of children with medical conditions are effectively supported.

The guidelines aim to ensure that children with long term health conditions are properly supported in school and enabled to play a "full and active role in school life,
remain healthy and achieve their academic potential."

sick-girlThe draft guidance says it is crucial that schools consider advice from healthcare professionals and listen to and value the views of parents and pupils about how they need to be supported.

The social and emotional implications associated with medical conditions is also to be taken into consideration, such as children being self-conscious about their condition or facing bullying that can lead to anxiety or depression.

The guidance also reminds schools that if a medical condition means a child is disabled then governing bodies must ensure duties under the Equality Act 2010 are met. The consultation period lasts for six weeks, closing on 14th March (at 5pm)

The guidance appears to be aimed at plugging the gap left by the fact that the 'D' for disability, that has now been pasted back into the Children & Families Bill, still didn't entitle a child to the statutory protection of an EHCP - making it effectively a Statement in fancy dress.

Reading it at first glance, it does look like sensible and useful guidance, but I'm sure that it can be improved with a spot of parental input - yes, that's you (and me).

The consultation document isn't very long or overly difficult to read and understand and I would definitely recommend giving it the once over and seeing what good ideas you come up with that it may have missed.

You can find the information you need to read and respond online here - don't forget, it closes on March 14th.

YOUR VIEWS: What do you think - how can it be improved - or should it have been part of the Bill to begin with?

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Tania Tirraoro

One comment

  1. TSF

    Having downloaded the consultation and response, I am struck by how many SHOULDs there are in there. Our experience with guidance and Stat Regs is that if there is any form of conditional wording the LA/school/organisation will use that as a validation for doing nothing. Unless there are a great deal more MUSTs, clearly unambiguous straight talking and imperative instructions in place then, in my view, settings will choose to do as little as possible. We have years of experience of LA, schools and organisations not following the law, failing to comply with legal direction and receiving no sanction for such behaviour. Until the requirement is placed on them in a direct and straightforward way that can not be wriggled out of/blamed on someone else (which is still easily possible with the ‘new’ guidelines) then, frankly, they are a waste of paper/time/effort.

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