Education of children unable to attend school due to ill health: guidance

Guidance for education authorities.

Policy context

15. In considering how to meet the duty to make special arrangements for children and young people who are unable to attend a suitable educational establishment as a result of their prolonged ill health, local authorities and other relevant service providers must consider their duties and responsibilities under the wider policy framework.

16. Getting it right for every child [15] ( GIRFEC) ensures that children and young people are at the centre of any planning to meet their wellbeing and requires that all services for children and young people ensure their culture, systems and practice work together to support children and young people. Elements of GIRFEC have been enshrined in legislation through Parts 4 (Named Person) and 5 (Child's Plan) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which are due to be commenced in August 2016. Some local authority areas currently operate non-statutory versions of the Named Person and Child's Plan.

17. Under the GIRFEC approach, every child and young person has a 'named person' . Depending on the age of the child or young person, health visitor, or teacher normally takes this role and this means that the child and their family have a point of contact who can work with them to coordinate any further help, advice or support if required to promote, support or safeguard the child or young person's wellbeing.

18. The GIRFEC National Practice Model [16] provides a framework for practitioners and agencies to structure and analyse information consistently so as to understand a child or young person's wellbeing needs. It promotes the participation of children, young people and their families in gathering information and making decisions about wellbeing, and it provides a shared understanding of a child or young person's strengths and needs. It is a way for all agencies and workers who support children, young people and their families to develop a common language within a single framework, enabling more effective inter and intra-agency working.

19. Curriculum for Excellence underpins all schools' ethos and forms the basis for a whole-school approach to improving the health and wellbeing of all children, young people, staff and the wider community. The curriculum includes a range of entitlements for all children and young people, including an entitlement to support for every child and young person to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide, whatever their circumstances. [17]

20. Supporting children and young people in their learning involves - parents and carers, early learning and childcare staff, nursing & medical staff in a range of settings, primary teachers, hospital education staff and outreach teachers, secondary teachers, support staff, college staff, psychological services, Allied Health Professionals, Skills Development Scotland, volunteers and workers from voluntary organisations, local authority youth work provision and others.

21. Like all children and young people, those too ill to attend school are entitled to personal support to enable them to:

  • Review their learning and plan next steps;
  • Gain access to learning activities which will meet their needs;
  • Plan for opportunities for personal achievement;
  • Prepare for changes and choices and be supported through changes and choices, including transitions to and from school, and those resulting from prolonged ill health.

22. All children and young people should have frequent and regular opportunities to discuss their learning with an adult who knows them well and can act as a mentor, helping them to set appropriate goals for the next stages in learning. Children and young people themselves should be at the centre of this planning, as active participants in their learning and development.

23. For children under the age of three, national guidance was published in 2010: Pre-Birth to Three Positive Outcomes for Scotland's Children and Families . This sets the context for high quality care and education and seeks to identify key features that support and promote evidence-based approaches. Building the Ambition which was published in 2014 pulls together national practice guidance for all young children in early learning and childcare, from birth to starting school.


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