Archive - September 2011

Children with Medical Conditions should be kept in their home-school

Alison Boyd
Head of Education Support Team for Medical Absence ESTMA, Hertfordshire until Sept 2011

In an article by Kerra Maddern in the TES 14th October, she comments on the risk of failure of local authorities to be able to fulfil the requirements of the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 which extends the duty of local authorities to provide full time education for pupils missing education because of illness and exclusion.

I would like to separate the 2 categories of children, those with illness and those excluded. Children with illness should in my opinion be maintained in their schools and on the school roll wherever possible. A child who is truly unwell - as opposed to being unwilling to attend school, is unlikely to be able to attend any provision full time as demanded by Mr Gove during a period of illness, no matter how long they are unwell.

For 23 years I was involved in the educational provision of pupils with medical conditions unable to attend school full time. We worked very closely with schools supporting them to ensure the best possible provision for these pupils maintaining them in their home school where possible. We found that targeting any teaching support to very specific areas highlighted by the pupils themselves, we were able to encourage them back into their favourite subjects in school. Friendships were key to their recovery and reintegration and helped support them back into school, along with supportive key staff.

We were cost effective, reducing our budget as a result of good practice and efficient working. Effective multi-agency working was the key to our success, particularly the close liaison with medical practitioners.

Taking pupils out of their schools and requiring them to attend full time education is an unrealistic and backwards step and costly. Children with Medical Conditions should not be 'lumped together' with those who are excluded.