The revised guidance contains both statutory guidance and non statutory advice, with the non statutory advice helpfully being set out in text boxes within the document.
Whilst the statutory advice does not apply to schools in the independent sector, the guidance provides non statutory advice for anyone who has an interest in promoting the wellbeing and academic attainment of children with medical conditions; independent schools are specifically referred to.
It is recommended that independent schools have regard to the guidance when carrying out their statutory Equality Act 2010 duties to make 'reasonable adjustments' for pupils with disabilities.
This will include supporting pupils with medical conditions, in terms of both physical and mental health, so that they can play a full and active role in school life, remain healthy and achieve their academic potential. Importantly, the guidance also applies to off site activities which take place as 'normal educational activities'.
They key points of the guidance are that:
- Pupils at school with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips and physical education.
- Governing bodies must ensure, in accordance with their Equality Act duties, that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils at school with medical conditions.
- Governing bodies should ensure that school leaders consult health and social care professionals, pupils and parents to ensure that the needs of children with medical conditions are properly understood and effectively supported.
Guiding Principles for Schools
- Take into account that many of the medical conditions that require support at school will affect quality of life and may be life threatening.
- Focus on the needs of each individual child and how their medical condition impacts on their school life.
- Give parents and pupils confidence in the school’s ability to provide effective support for medical conditions in school.
- Show an understanding of how medical conditions impact on a child’s ability to learn, as well as increase their confidence and promote self care.
- Ensure that staff are properly trained to provide the support that pupils need.
- Ensure that the school develops a policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions which is reviewed regularly and is readily accessible to parents and school staff.
- Include details on how the school’s policy will be implemented effectively, including a named person who has overall responsibility for policy implementation.
The School’s Policy
Details should include:
- who is responsible for ensuring that sufficient staff are suitably trained
- a commitment that all relevant staff will be made aware of the child’s condition
- cover arrangements in case of staff absence or staff turnover to ensure someone is always available
- briefing for supply teachers
- risk assessments for school visits, holidays, and other school activities outside of the normal timetable
- monitoring of individual healthcare plans
To find out more about your individual school's responsibilities and duties towards pupils with medical conditions, please contact Tracey Eldridge-Hinmers in our Independent Schools team on 020 7665 0802.