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Children with Health Needs who Cannot Attend School

We understand that we have a continuing role in a student’s education whilst they are not attending the school and will work with the Local Authority (LA), healthcare partners and families to ensure that all students with medical needs receive the right level of support to enable them to maintain links with their education. Individual cases, which can be complex, will be discussed with Education Welfare Officers who can provide additional support and guidance.

Definitions

Students who are unable to attend school because of their medical needs may include those with:

  • Physical health issues.
  • Physical injuries.
  • Mental health problems, including anxiety issues.
  • Emotional difficulties or school refusal.
  • Progressive conditions.
  • Terminal illnesses.
  • Chronic illnesses.

Students who are unable to attend mainstream education for health reasons may attend any of the following:

  • Hospital school: a special school within a hospital setting where education is provided to give continuity whilst the student is receiving treatment.
  • Medical PRUs: these are LA establishments that provide education for Student unable to attend their registered school due to their medical needs

Where a student has a complex or long-term health issue, the pattern of illness can be unpredictable. The school will discuss the student’s needs and how these may be best met with the Local Authority, relevant medical professionals, parents and, where appropriate, the student. Flexibility and responsiveness may be needed.

The Role of the School in Managing Absence

The law does not specify the point during a student’s illness when it becomes the Local Authorities responsibility to secure for the student’s suitable full time education. Schools would usually provide support to students who are absent from school because of illness for a shorter period - for example when experiencing chicken pox or influenza.

More generally, local authorities should be ready to take responsibility for any student whose illness will prevent them from attending school for 15 or more school days, either in one absence or over the course of the school year, and where suitable education is not otherwise being arranged.

Where a student has a complex or long-term health issue, the pattern of illness can be unpredictable. The school will discuss the student’s needs and how these may be best met with the Local Authority, relevant medical professionals, parents and, where appropriate, the student. Flexibility and responsiveness may be needed.

The Local Authority expects the school to support students with health needs to attend full-time education wherever possible, or for the school to make reasonable adjustments to students’ programmes of study where medical evidence supports the need for those adjustments. The school will make reasonable adjustments under students’ individual healthcare plans. Students admitted to hospital will receive education as determined appropriate by the medical professionals and hospital tuition team at the hospital concerned.

During a period of absence, the school will work with the provider of the student’s education to establish and maintain regular communication and effective outcomes. As far as possible, the student will be able to access the curriculum and materials that they would have used in school. Where appropriate, the school will provide the student’s education provider with relevant information, curriculum materials and resources. It may be decided that a remote offer of education either via video or live lessons can be provide by the school. In those cases the school will make use of the remote learning platforms that have been successfully used previously including monitoring student engagement and systems for marking and returning work. The duration of this arrangement will be agreed on a case-by-case basis and in partnership with families, the responsible local authority and relevant health and social care partners.

Whilst a student is away from school, the school will work with the Local Authority to ensure the student can successfully remain in touch with their school and may use the following methods:

  • School newsletters
  • Emails
  • Invitations to school events
  • Platforms such as Hegarty Maths, Linguascope etc

Reintegration

When a student is considered well enough to return to school, the school will develop a tailored reintegration plan in collaboration with the LA.

For longer absences, the reintegration plan will be developed near to the student’s likely date of return, to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on an ill student or their parents in the early stages of their absence.

The school is aware that some students will need gradual reintegration over a long period of time and will always consult with the student, their parents and key staff about concerns, medical issues, timing and the preferred pace of return.

The reintegration plan will include:

  • The date for planned reintegration, once known
  • Details of regular meetings to discuss reintegration
  • Details of the named member of staff who has responsibility for the student
  • Clearly stated responsibilities and the rights of all those involved
  • Details of social contacts, including the involvement of peers and mentors during the transition period
  • A programme of small goals leading up to reintegration
  • Follow up procedures

The school will consider whether any reasonable adjustments need to be made to provide suitable access to the school and the curriculum for the student. These may include the following adaptations:

  • A personalised or part-time timetable, drafted in consultation with the named staff member
  • Access to additional support in school
  • Online access to some of the curriculum from home
  • Movement of lessons to more accessible rooms
  • Places to rest at school
  • Special exam arrangements to manage anxiety or fatigue

The school will ensure a welcoming environment is developed and encourage students and staff to be positive and proactive during the reintegration period.

Supporting Students with Medical Conditions

For information on how we support students with medical conditions please visit our Student Health & Welfare page.