Policy on supporting pupils with medical conditions
Ensuring a policy is in place
All schools should have a written policy on supporting pupils with medical conditions. In state schools in England this is a legal requirement. It’s best practice for schools to publish their medical conditions policy on their website.
A policy on supporting pupils with medical conditions explains the arrangements a school has in place to make sure these young people are safe and included in all areas of school life. This includes sports, break times, day visits and residential visits. Schools should communicate with families and healthcare professionals to put the right support in place.
Schools should take into account how a young person’s condition might affect their learning. For example, research shows that a significantly high proportion of young people with epilepsy have difficulty in at least one area of cognition or behaviour.
If your school has specific policies relating to young people with epilepsy you may find it helpful to include these as appendices to the main policy. You may also find it useful to include a link to this guide in the policy: www.youngepilepsy.org.uk/guideforschools
Support for pupils with medical conditions forms part of schools’ safeguarding responsibilities. The Government definition of safeguarding includes ‘preventing impairment of children’s health’. The Keeping children safe in education guidance also makes reference to statutory guidance on supporting pupils with medical conditions.
Young people with epilepsy are protected from disability discrimination. Schools are required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that a young person with epilepsy is not at a substantial disadvantage compared to their peers.
Epilepsy at school
Some young people with epilepsy are unable to take part in activities due to specific medical advice. However, in most circumstances young people with epilepsy can be included with the right support in place. A risk assessment, informed by the young person's Individual Healthcare Plan (IHP), can help put the activity into context.
Misconceptions about epilepsy can be a significant barrier to inclusion in education. Young people with epilepsy may be excluded from activities due to misguided concerns about safety. These concerns may stem from school staff, parents and sometimes from the young person themselves. Exclusion from education in any form can have long-term detrimental effects that may limit the opportunities these young people have in the future.
Simple adjustments to environment, routine and equipment may help a young person with epilepsy. These could include:
- Clear, safe (risk assessed) environment
- Avoiding triggers e.g. heat, dehydration, lights, noise levels, stress
- Visual supports to aid learning and memory
- Calm/time-out/rest area
Some young people with epilepsy need to sleep during the day if they have had a seizure. They may need time to ‘recharge’ before they are able to rejoin lessons. Access to rest space at school can help avoid young people being sent home unnecessarily.
Young people with epilepsy may need to adapt their daily routine to accommodate their condition, including food, drink, medication and sleep. Reasonable adjustments must be made to accommodate these needs, e.g. by allowing them to eat or drink at a particular time, or issuing them with a ‘take a break’ card.
Many activities, including swimming, climbing and ‘extreme’ sports can be managed by putting the appropriate levels of supervision in place and taking sensible precautions. A personal risk assessment should be discussed and agreed with the young person and parents. Schools should ensure sufficient numbers of staff have training in administering emergency medication.
-  Children and Families Act 2014, section 100
- Department for Education (2015) Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions: Statutory guidance for governing bodies of maintained schools and proprietors of academies in England
-  Young Epilepsy (2014) The identification of educational problems in childhood epilepsy: The Children with Epilepsy in Sussex Schools (CHESS) study
-  HM Government (2018) Working together to safeguard children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, p. 102
-  Department for Education (2018) Keeping children safe in education: Statutory guidance for schools and colleges, p. 88
-  Equality Act 2010