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Guide for schools

Epilepsy can have a major impact on a young person’s school attendance.   This page provides a brief overview and suggests strategies for dealing with epilepsy-related attendance issues.   

Epilepsy can have a significant impact on a young person being able to attend school regularly for at least some part of their education.

Schools should consider how their policies on attendance affect young people with epilepsy. For example: 

  • Young people shouldn’t be penalised for absences related to their condition and pupil incentives for improving attendance should be achievable  
  • Good communication with the young person and their family can help ensure they get the support they need at school to maximise their attendance and improve their educational outcomes 

Young people with epilepsy may miss lessons more often than their peers. This can be due to: 

  • Attending medical appointments 
  • Establishing new medication routines 
  • Recovering from seizures 
    • Many young people experience tiredness, confusion, headaches and need to sleep after a seizure 
    • Injuries sustained during a seizure may also result in periods of school absence 

Prolonged periods of absence because of a stay in hospital can make it harder for a young person to return to school.  A young person’s overall school experience and separation anxiety can also affect their attendance.  A feeling of being different to peers may lead to emotional problems, worry, stress and anxiety.  Bullying and reluctance to attend school as a result can lead to school refusal. 

Some young people may be removed from class and sent home from school following every seizure, even though they may just need to sleep or rest before rejoining a lesson.  

Schools should find a way of being able to accommodate these rest periods following a seizure in order to avoid unnecessary absence


    In this section of the guide


    Seizures, seizure-related factors and anti-seizure medications can affect communication.


    Young people with epilepsy can have problems with memory.

    Motor skills

    Young people with epilepsy may experience problems with motor skills.

    Exams & coursework

    Information about extra help with exams and coursework for pupils with epilepsy.


    Information for schools about transitions for pupils with epilepsy.


    Information about how sleep is affected in pupils with epilepsy.


    Information about how school attendance is affected in pupils with epilepsy.

    Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

    Other sections of the guide that may be of interest

    Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

    Epilepsy impact on emotions & behaviour

    Epilepsy can have a profound effect on a young person's emotions and behaviour, which can produce a range of emotional responses that make academic achievement at school difficult.

    Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

    UK legal frameworks

    An overview of the different laws and systems in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

    Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

    Key elements of support

    The key elements of support that schools should have in place to ensure all young people with epilepsy are safe and included in school life

    Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

    About seizures

    Information about seizure types, triggers, first aid, treatments, records, and emergency medication for schools