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

Guidance for education authorities.


41. Whatever the circumstances, the objective at all times is to ensure that the child's educational entitlement and wellbeing are met. The process followed in each case is likely to differ depending on individual circumstances, but common throughout all stages is the need for clear lines of communication between staff across education and health boards and the child or young person and their parent or carer.

42. Awareness - as part of a school's attendance and absence policy, parents are expected to inform schools whenever their child is ill, even if it is just for one day. In line with paragraph 6, or as soon as it is clear that the period of absence is going to exceed the timescales indicated, arrangements should be made for the provision of education outwith school. In the case of intermittent or longer term absences, which cause a barrier to learning, the school should identify, assess and make provision for additional support within school to ensure that any resulting gaps in learning are covered [26] . The health services should make contact with the child or young person's home local authority and/or school and named person if contact has not already been established, particularly where the child has travelled from another part of the country or from an independent school. Parents should be involved or made aware of these discussions and agreements.

43. Assessment - the medical assessment made by the health service will influence the scale and scope of educational provision that may be planned and provided. Once it is considered that educational provision is appropriate, the home authority is responsible for ensuring that an education plan is discussed and agreed between the child or young person, the parent, the school, the host authority and hospital staff. Any plan should take into account the views and expectations of the child or young person and the parents/carers. The child's or young person's health and medical needs and appropriate educational provision should be subject to regular review by all parties. The plan should also take account of identification and planning of additional support for learning already in place.

44. Where an assessment of wellbeing indicates that a targeted intervention is required to promote, support or safeguard the child's wellbeing, consideration should be given to drawing up a Child's Plan [27] (which will include education outcomes), in line with national guidance. [28] It would be for the named person, or the lead professional, to coordinate the assessment and planning process within the GIRFEC framework. Where the child or young person is already receiving support coordinated through a Child's Plan, the absence due to illness is likely to be a trigger to review that plan.

45. Agreement for governance arrangements - ideally, before education provision commences, there should be agreement between all relevant parties as to governance and funding arrangements, such that the school or ELCC and home authority are satisfied with the proposed educational provision and estimated costs and are clear on responsibilities and communication. The communication protocols referred to in paragraphs 29 to 30 should ensure this process is part of an established agreement or rapidly completed and so does not result in any avoidable delay to the commencement of education provision. The home authority should be satisfied that appropriate arrangements are in place to monitor the quality of education provision.

46. Education Provision - the education provider will develop a programme of learning activities and support in conjunction with other professionals, including NHS, parents and host school and/or authority where appropriate. The nature of the education provision will vary depending on the setting (for example at home or in hospital), the type and severity of illness etc, but should, as far as is practicable, support and maintain the child or young person's learning. The use of Information and Communications Technology may complement the quality of education and help the child or young person stay connected with their school. However, technology should be used to enhance rather than replace face to face provision in circumstances where relationships will be important in promoting wellbeing. It may be the case that specialist equipment is required to facilitate education and a referral to paediatric Allied Health Professional services may be required. In many cases the programme of activity and responsibility for delivery will be outlined in a Child's Plan and will take account of the arrangements for the provision of additional support for learning already in place, including the provision in place through Individualised Educational Programmes.

47. Generally, the aim should be to support the broad, flexible curriculum and entitlements outlined through Curriculum for Excellence, within the constraints of the setting and the individual's health. As set out in paragraphs 19 to 22, all children and young people are entitled to appropriate support with their learning, and to be included, engaged and involved in planning their learning.

48. Next steps and Follow up. Within the GIRFEC framework, there should be on-going assessment by relevant professionals in health and education of the most appropriate education provision to optimise the child's wellbeing. in close conjunction with the child or young person and family. Generally the best interests of the child will be served by a return to their school. Wherever appropriate schools or ELCC should make every effort to plan with teachers, their peers, parents, specialist services, medical personnel and children themselves, flexible and progressive arrangements to secure successful reintegration. Education authorities should consider their duties to plan for transition under Additional Support for learning where a child or young person's ill health is creating a barrier to their learning. Usually, this will lead to a successful return to the child or young person's home school or ELCC, but it may involve a continuation of education at home, or a move to another care setting, or, a cessation of education if clinically appropriate. During any of these transition phases, care should be taken to take full account of the views of the child or young person, and their parent or carer, to ensure they are comfortable with the proposed arrangements.


Back to top