Parents of children with medical conditions are often concerned that their child's health will deteriorate when they attend school. This is because pupils with long-term and complex medical conditions may require ongoing support, medicines or care whilst at school to help them manage their condition and keep them well. Others may require monitoring and interventions in emergency circumstances. It is also the case that children's health needs may change over time, in ways that cannot always be predicted, sometimes resulting in extended absences.
It is important that parents feel confident that schools will provide effective support for their child's medical condition and that pupils feel safe.
The Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on maintained schools and academies to make arrangements to support pupils with medical conditions. Schools and governing bodies are required to have regard to statutory guidance supporting pupils at school with medical conditions (December 2015) and must ensure that they consult health and social care professionals, pupils and parents so that the needs of children/young people with medical conditions are properly understood and effectively supported.
All children and young people with medical conditions, in terms of both physical and mental health, should be supported in school so that they can play a full and active role in school life, remain healthy and achieve their academic potential.
In some cases, an individual healthcare plan will be required which will specify the type and level of support required to meet the medical needs of such pupils and be written in conjunction with a health care professional, school and the family.
In addition to the educational impacts, there are social and emotional implications associated with medical conditions. Children may be self-conscious about their condition and some may be bullied or develop emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression around their medical condition. In particular, long-term absences due to health problems affect children's educational attainment, impact on their ability to integrate with their peers and affect their general wellbeing and emotional health. Reintegration back into school should be properly supported so that children with medical conditions fully engage with learning and do not fall behind when they are unable to attend
Some children and young people with medical conditions may be considered to be disabled under the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010. Where this is the case schools and governing bodies must comply with their duties under that Act. Some may also have special educational needs (SEN) and may have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan which brings together health and social care needs, as well as their special educational provision.