Photo of a teacher helping a school student


Guide for schools

All young people with epilepsy can have problems with: 

  • Memory, including forgetting what they’ve read or heard 
  • Processing speed 
  • Attention and concentration 

Cognitive difficulties are not confined to young people with severe epilepsy.  Young people whose abilities are within the average range can also have problems with processing speed or memory, for example, and may need additional learning support.

These difficulties are often not recognised but clearly affect academic progress and lead to frustration on the part of the young person, their parents and school staff. 

An exam system based on being able to recall information may be particularly difficult for young people with epilepsy.  Discrepancies between grades achieved for coursework and the overall grade given following an exam could be an indicator of memory problems. 

Other indicators of cognitive difficulties include:  

  • Reading, spelling, numeracy and sequencing problems 
  • Difficulties solving problems  
  • Problems with organising, including planning and structuring work, and having the right equipment 

 Strategies that may be useful include: 

Memory difficulties

  • Providing information in clear manageable chunks 
  • Routine, rehearsal and repetition 
  • Using a variety of teaching styles, e.g. the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK) approach 
  • Focusing less on information retrieval and more on recognition 
  • Providing visual aids, e.g. photobooks, flowcharts, checklists, task cards, keywords and timetables 
  • Using mnemonics and songs of reference 

Find out more about VAK

Processing difficulties: 

  • Using a multisensory approach, e.g. VAK 
  • Giving simple tasks or activities  
  • Providing information in chunks 
  • Using clear and sequential language 
  • Using cueing mechanisms 
  • Teaching independent strategies, e.g. write lists 
  • Providing earning buddies/homework clubs 
  • Using visual timetables and colour coding 
  • Recap as much as possible 
  • Providing visual/written information to support verbal instructions

Attention or concentration difficulties 

  • Using eye contact and the young person’s name 
  • Using engaging and varied activities and learning styles 
  • Teaching and learning at an appropriate pace 
  • Timed activities
  • Providing the right learning environment, e.g. consider mood, music and colours 
  • Using visual prompts, e.g. timetables, checklists, egg-timers and countdowns 
  • Seating position 
  • Allowing regular work breaks 
  • Identifying strengths and adjusting teaching style 

In this section of the guide

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.


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

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

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