Education settings - medication in schools
The government published statutory guidance on "Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions" in 2014 which requires schools to have arrangements in place to support pupils with medical conditions. In doing so it should ensure that such children can access and enjoy the same opportunities at school as any other child.
This guidance explains that governing bodies must;
“…make arrangements to support pupils with medical conditions in school, including making sure that a policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions in school is developed and implemented. They should ensure that sufficient staff have received suitable training and are competent before they take on responsibility to support children with medical conditions.”
You may find it useful to familiarise yourself with the school’s policy on supporting pupils with medical conditions, you can ask for a copy of this from school alternatively this may be available on their website.
The guidance says this policy must include;
- The procedures to be followed whenever a school is notified that a pupil has a medical condition
- The role of Individual Healthcare Plans
- Roles and responsibilities of those involved in the arrangements school make to support pupils with medical conditions
- How staff will be supported in carrying out their role and how this will be reviewed including specifying how training needs are assessed and how and by whom training will be commissioned and provided
- Arrangements for children who are competent to manage their own health needs and medicines
- Procedures to be followed for managing medicines
- What should happen in an emergency situation
- Information regarding what practice is unacceptable
- How complaints concerning the support provided to pupils with medical conditions may be made and will be handled.
Governing bodies should ensure that the school’s policy covers the role of Individual Healthcare Plans. Individual Healthcare Plans provide clarity about what needs to be done, when and by whom.
Governing Bodies should;
“…ensure that plans are reviewed at least annually, or earlier if evidence is presented that the child’s needs have changed. They should be developed with the child’s best interests in mind and ensure that the school assesses and manages risks to the child’s education, health and social wellbeing, and minimises disruption.”
An Individual Healthcare plan could include;
- Medical condition (including triggers, signs, symptoms and treatments)
- Level of support needed
- Who will provide this support
- Who in school needs to be aware of the child’s condition
- Arrangements for school trips/activities
- What to do in an emergency
The LA has a responsibility towards children of compulsory school age that because of illness cannot attend school at all or can only attend intermittently. The government provided statutory guidance for local authorities on this responsibility in “Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs”.
Unable to attend school due to medical reasons
Local authorities must;
“Arrange suitable full-time education (or as much education as the child’s health condition allows) for children of compulsory school age who, because of illness, would otherwise not receive suitable education.” (p4)
Suitable education means suitable to the child’s age, aptitude, ability and any special educational needs that he or she may have.
There will be circumstances where your child will receive suitable education that meets their needs without the intervention of the local authority for example where they can still attend school with some support or where school has made arrangements to deliver suitable education outside school.
There is no absolute deadline by which the local authority must have started to provide education for children with additional health needs but local authorities should arrange provision as soon as it is clear that an absence will last more than 15 days and it should so at the latest by the sixth day of the absence. Local authorities should work closely with medical professionals and the child’s family, and consider the medical evidence. Collaboration between relevant services involved is essential to delivering effective education for children with additional health needs.
Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs explains that the local authority should have a named officer responsible for the education of children with additional health needs, and parents should know who that person is. The local authority should also have a written, publicly accessible policy on their arrangements to comply with their duty towards children with additional health needs.
When the time comes for your child to reintegrate back into school, you may find it useful to work with the school and if relevant the local authority to explore an individually tailored reintegration plan. You may also wish to include the school nurse in these conversations.