When students are absent from school on medical grounds it is important that they are able to keep up with their studies, as far as their medical condition allows.
Schools have a vital role to play in ensuring that pupils who are absent from school on medical grounds have the educational support they need.
have a policy and name a person responsible for dealing with pupils who are unable to attend school on medical grounds;
- notify the LA/Educational Welfare Officer (EWO) if a pupil is, or is likely to be, away from school on medical grounds for more than 15 working days;
- supply the appropriate education provider with information about a pupil’s capabilities, educational progress, and programmes of work;
- liaise with home and hospital services to enable them to draw up a personal education plan to cover the complete education for a pupil who is likely to be at home for more than 15 working days, and pupils with chronic illnesses who regularly miss school. This plan should be agreed with appropriate health service staff;
- monitor progress and reintegration into school, liaising with other agencies as necessary;
- ensure that pupils who are unable to attend school on medical grounds are kept informed about school social events and are able to participate in activities such as homework clubs and study support;
- ecourage and facilitate liaison with peers, for example, through visits and videos;
- provide work packs in advance for pupils who are admitted to hospital on a regular basis.
Schools should not remove a pupil who is unable to attend school on medical grounds from the school register without parental consent, even during a long period of illness, unless a school medical officer certifies the pupil as unlikely to be in a fit state to attend school before ceasing to be of compulsory school age.
Successful reintegration into school
Schools play a key role in ensuring successful reintegration. School policies and procedures need to be as positive and proactive as possible in order to welcome the pupil back into school. Consultation with the pupil and parents about concerns, medical issues, timing and pace of return is important. Key staff such as class teacher, head of year, pastoral support, home and/or hospital tutor, and Connexions personal adviser (for pupils who are13 to 19) could meet to discuss this case. Friends and other pupils can help a child settle back in school. Extra support should be provided when it is clear what has been missed; diagnostic testing is a good way to assess any gaps.
Partnership with parents and pupils
Parents hold key information and knowledge and have a crucial part to play. They should be fully-collaborative partners and should be informed about their child’s educational programme and performances. Pupils also have a right to be involved in making decisions and exercising choice.
Schools might, for example, want to include information in their prospectuses on their own and their LA’s policies for pupils who are unable to attend school on medical grounds.