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Medical Needs and Schooling: Know Your Child’s Rights

If children are in hospital on a long-term basis or prevented from going to school because of a disability, what should you do to ensure they don’t miss vital education?

Children still have rights when it comes to their schooling and local authorities have a duty to support pupils with medical conditions and ensure suitable, alternative provision.

In Supporting pupils at schools with medical conditions, the Department of Education states: “Schools, local authorities, health professionals, commissioners and other support services should work together to ensure that children with medical conditions receive a full education.

“In some cases this will require flexibility and involve, for example, programmes of study that rely on part-time attendance at school in combination with alternative provision arranged by the local authority.

“Consideration may also be given to how children will be reintegrated back into school after periods of absence.

“This guidance confirms that there is scope for your child to receive home tuition if they are too unwell to attend school.”

Various laws are in place to help you make sure they’re getting the support they need including the Education Act 1996, the Children and Families Act 2014 and statutory guidance.


Can Your Child’s School Support Their Needs?

All schools should develop a policy for supporting pupils who have medical conditions and these policies must be reviewed regularly and be accessible to parents and school staff.

If you’re in doubt as to the school’s own policy, you can ask for a copy.

It should include details of staff responsibilities for children with medical needs, arrangements for when staff are absent and details of risk assessments for when a child is involved in school activities which they are away from the school. In addition, the policy should clarify how individual healthcare plans – specific to each child and their needs – should be monitored and what should happen in an emergency.


What Can Parents Do?

Parents do have a duty to ensure their child receives a full time education, but local authorities have a key role to play in assisting children in accessing education.

Individual healthcare plans should be drawn up with the involvement of parents as well as the school and any relevant health professional. Obviously, the level of detail in any particular plan can vary but a parent’s involvement in the preparation and monitoring of a plan is essential.

If your child has special educational needs as well as any medical conditions, then this should be planned and delivered in a coordinated way. Read more about this here Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years

What Can You do if You Have Concerns About Your Child’s Support at School?

If you have any concerns, it is important that you raise them with the school in the first instance, referring to the above legislation and guidance if this becomes necessary. If this does not resolve matters you can ask to discuss it with the local education authority.

If you see no improvement in how a school is supporting your child and believe the school is failing in its duties, you can choose to seek legal advice.

Liz Perry is a lawyer specialising in educational rights in the court of protection department at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

For a free consultation, call 24/7 on freephone 0800 223 0650 or contact us online.

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