Supporting a child with medical needs in school

Pupils with long-term and complex medical conditions need ongoing support, medicines or care at school so that they can manage their condition and remain well.  

The Children’s and Families Act 2014 places a duty on maintained schools and academies to support those pupils that have medical conditions.  

The Department of Education provides statutory guidance for supporting pupils at school with medical conditions.   

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Arrangements schools should make to support a child with a medical condition 

Children and young people with medical conditions should be able to enjoy the same opportunities as their peers.  

Your child’s school should:  

  • make sure that relevant staff undertake appropriate training, including giving prescription medications and undertaking health care procedures 

  • have a school policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions that is reviewed regularly and is accessible to parents and school staff  

  • have a clear plan and process so that everyone involved with your child such as you, school, local authority and healthcare providers all effectively work together in the interest of your child 

An individual healthcare plan  

Every child with a medical condition should have an Individual Healthcare Plan (IHCP) which is an agreement between parents/carers, school and health care professionals.  

The plan should describe:  

  • the child’s care needs 

  • how their needs will be met at school 

Head teachers, school governors and responsible bodies should make sure each child with a medical condition has an IHCP and that it is being carried out. 

The Health Conditions in School Alliance offer guidance to school staff on IHCPs.  

How local authorities support pupils with medical conditions  

Most Children can miss school for odd days due to short term colds or sickness. Parents should report this type of absence using the school’s absence procedure.  

For pupils with longer absences, the Local Authority is required to follow statutory guidance on ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs.  This relates to children and young people who are declared medically unfit for school by a medical professional. 

It states the local authority:   

  • must arrange suitable full-time education for children of school age that can’t access education in the normal way due to illness.  Part-time hours may be more suitable for some, depending on their ability to cope  

  • must provide education for absences of 15 days or more.  This can be either consecutive days or those built up over a period of time.  

  • must liaise with medical professionals quickly so there is minimal impact to your child’s education  

  • the ensure education provided should be of good quality and address the needs of your child and enable them to successfully reintegrate back into school  

  • must have a named officer responsible for the education of children and young people with a medical need  

The South Gloucestershire Council policy for supporting children with medical needs in school is available here.

My child has both a medical condition and special educational needs  

If your child has both a medical condition and special educational need(s) (SEN) and, their health provision should still be planned and delivered with an individual health plan (IHCP).  

Your child may also have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) that describes interventions and support connected to their SEN.  

An EHCP cannot replace an IHCP, but the information in your child’s IHCP can be used to inform their EHCP, particularly in Sections C and G (health needs and provision).  

Other Information 

Contact, a national charity has an A-Z of medical conditions which may provide you and school with further information in addition to signposting you to other relevant organisations.  

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