Physical disability or medical needs

Cornwall Council, Town and Parish, and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections information and results.

Do you have a child or young adult with a physical disability or medical needs who attends school? Our service can provide support to both the student and the school in an educational setting.

We work to make sure all students with physical disabilities and medical needs access the curriculum. We do this by working closely with:

  • the Council’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) support teams
  • key NHS therapy teams

We ensure all students have the chance to achieve throughout their education journey.

We also share our expertise with teachers and education staff. We help them feel confident in supporting students with physical disabilities and medical needs.

Key services

  • physical access to school equipment, resources, classroom and wider school environment

  • accessibility and environmental audits for students with physical and / or medical needs
  • effective transitions for students with physical and / or medical needs. This means at new phases of their education.
  • risk assessments for students with physical and / or medical needs
  • creating inclusive learning opportunities for students with physical and medical needs.
  • supporting students with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD). We work with Occupational Therapy and Educational Psychology teams.
  • advice on use of specialist IT. This helps to promote inclusivity and independence throughout a student’s journey

East Cornwall

  • PL and EX postcodes
  • St Columb
  • Newquay

Steve Deacon – Physical and Medical Needs Advisory Lead

I have worked in specialist settings for over 10 years. I teach and support pupils with various Special Educational Needs. This includes physical disabilities and medical needs. I have done this by:

  • differentiating the National Curriculum
  • designing and implementing the curriculum for post 16 learners
  • setting up, designing and using specialist ICT equipment
  • preparing learners for adulthood
  • setting up work placements within the local community
  • overseeing the care and medical provision within educational settings

West Cornwall

  • TR postcodes

Melinda Leishman – Physical and Medical Needs Advisor

For over the past 15 years, I have worked with students with Special Educational Needs. I have done this as a SENCO and SEN Teacher across mainstream and special school settings. My experience has enabled me to develop my practice and knowledge in planning. I advise schools on intervention and support for students with Physical, Medical and Additional needs. I develop inclusive environments. I use a creative approach to lead engaging opportunities for students with physical and medical needs. My work is within educational settings and off-site activities

The Physical and Medical Needs Advisory Service can advise and support educational settings. This will help to make reasonable adjustments for children and young people with SEND to access the curriculum. 

They also identify and assess the needs of children and young people by looking at:

  • the curriculum
  • the enrichment curriculum eg school clubs, school trips
  • spoken and written information and advice
  • the physical school site

Our Local Authority Accessibility Strategy includes an Accessibility Audit Tool. This supports educational settings to make sure they can:

  • identify adaptations needed, including adaptations for children and young people with sensory needs

  • create solutions to accessibility issues. This is when adaptations are not possible. (moving groups to accessible areas etc.)
  • use consultation effectively. We ask children and young people about physical accessibility. e.g. access to toilets and changing facilities
  • think creatively about classroom interiors. We advise on making calm, low-sensory stimulation areas available. We even think about adding curtains to reduce noise levels, removing clutter etc.

The Physical and Medical Needs Advisory Service work with the NHS Trust Occupational Therapy.  We look at ways to support pupils in school with sensory integration difficulties.

What Sensory Integration means

Sensory integration is about how our brain receives and processes sensory information. This lets us do the things we need to do in our everyday life. The term sensory processing is sometimes used with the term sensory integration.

We may hear a person’s sensory needs described in different ways. For example as:

  • sensory differences
  • sensory seeking
  • sensory overload
  • sensory over-responsiveness

Often when we use these terms, we are talking about sensory modulation. Problems with sensory modulation occur when our brain either over responds or under responds to sensory information. For some people, the degree to which their brain under or over responds impacts on their ability to do things in everyday life.


Sensory training is offered through the Children’s Community Therapy Service.

Details of training and booking forms are at (Use the course code “PMNAS” to assist with your search).

Further information

Download our Sensory Integration Definition document. This includes information about Ayres' Sensory Integration intervention (ASI).

This document has been written jointly by:

  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust Occupational Therapists
  • Cornwall Council SEN Support Services

We accept referrals from:

  • schools (usually the SENCO)
  • medical professionals
  • other colleagues in the Council's SEN Support Services

Please complete the forms below:

The eligibility criteria for each service is listed on each of these forms. 

What happens next

Once we receive both forms we will then contact the school to arrange a visit.  This is to meet key staff and assess the needs of the student.  We are usually able to visit the school within four weeks of receiving the referral. 

We will share advice with key school staff, parents/carers and the student. We also produce a report outlining agreed actions and objectives.  Ongoing support will then be offered as appropriate to the student and the school. 

The Department for Education (DfE) says that schools must make sure that:

  • a pupil with a medical condition will still get their education. They can still go on school trips and do physical education.
  • they have made plans about how they are going to support a pupil with a medical condition.
  • they speak to health and social care professionals, pupils and parents. This makes sure that everyone understands the medical condition and how to support the pupil.

Support you can expect for your child

When supporting a pupil with medical needs, the school should:

  • make sure that parents and pupil are confident that the school knows how to support them
  • make sure that staff are properly trained
  • have a policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions. It must be reviewed regularly and parents and staff should be able to access it easily
  • make sure that pupils can access school trips, visits, or sporting activities. It should not stop them from doing so

Some children with medical needs may have disabilities and/or SEN too. The Equality Act 2010 says the school must make reasonable adjustments. This is to make sure that disabled children/young people are not at a disadvantage compared with their peers. Adjustments must be planned and put in place in advance.

Healthcare Plan

A Healthcare Plan is a document that has information from:

  • health professionals
  • school nurses
  • parents
  • the pupil
  • other relevant professionals

A senior member of school staff must write this document.  It should have key information and actions that are needed to support the child in school.

The healthcare plan should say what the school will do to help the pupil manage their condition. It helps overcome any barriers to get the most from their education.

The plan must be reviewed at least once a year or earlier if the pupil’s needs have changed. It should keep the pupil’s best interests in mind.

The school must say how they will assess and manage risks to the child’s education, health and social wellbeing.

The Healthcare Plan should include:

  • the medical condition, triggers, signs, symptoms and treatments
  • the pupil’s needs, including:
    • medication (dose, side effects and storage) and other treatments
    • facilities
    • equipment
    • testing/exams
    • access to food and drink where this is used to manage their condition,
    • dietary requirements
    • environmental issues, e.g. crowded corridors, travel time between lessons;
  • support for the pupil’s educational, social and emotional needs

A Healthcare Plan is different to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). 

  • An EHCP defines outcomes and provision in school for pupils with SEN and Disabilities.
  • A Healthcare Plan defines how to support a pupil’s medical needs whilst in school.

What you can do as a parent or guardian

  • provide the school with up-to-date information about your child’s medical needs
  • parents are key partners and should be involved in the development and review of their child’s individual healthcare plan
  • carry out any action agreed to as part of the Healthcare Plan, eg provide medicines and equipment
  • make sure you or another nominated adult are contactable at all times

Guidance, policies and templates for schools

Medical conditions – useful links for schools

  • Anaphalaxis – information from Anaphalaxis Campaign for schools, including resource packs.  Free online training modules for school staff, parents and younger children is also available through AllergyWise
  • Anaphalaxis – Department for Education guidance on use of adrenaline auto-injectors in school
  • Asthma guidance – Department for Education guidance on the use of asthma inhalers at school
  • Asthma online training – Supporting Children’s Health offers a free 45minute online training module
  • Asthma UK – links, resources, advice for children and young people with Asthma
  • Bowel and Bladder UK and ERIC – example intimate care policies and plans,  resources and advice for educational settings
  • Diabetes – Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treliske) contact details for child and adolescent health
  • Epilepsy Action and Learn Epilepsy have a number of useful resources including online training videos available.  Staff training and e-learning is also available
  • Muscular Dystrophy UK- this website has (free) online training modules for professionals working with children and young people with MD as well as a downloadable Fact Sheets for educational professionals and parents/carers
  • Well at School – website linking medical conditions with advice for schools and associated websites 

Is your school meeting the equality act?

Download the Equality Act Flowchart to see if your school is meeting the equality act.  It also sets out how the equality act defines a disability.

What schools must do to support pupils who have a disability

Schools must make reasonable adjustments when a disabled pupil is put at a disadvantage compared to other pupils.

Reasonable adjustments are changes schools make to give a disabled child the same chance as anyone else.  Making adjustments applies to all of the school’s activities including:

  • preparation for school
  • teaching and learning
  • classroom organisation
  • timetabling
  • grouping of pupils
  • homework
  • access to school facilities
  • activities to supplement the curriculum
  • school sports
  • school policies
  • breaks and lunchtimes
  • assessment and exam arrangements
  • school discipline and exclusions
  • school clubs and activities
  • school trips
  • school uniform
  • careers education, information, advice and guidance
  • work experience opportunities

Physical features of schools

Schools must consider ways to make the buildings accessible for their disabled pupils. This may mean making changes such as adding ramps or lifts. Some changes may be beyond a reasonable adjustment. In this case, the school must seek advice from outside services to assess the needs of the pupil. They may then build or install appropriate adaptions.

In some cases, rather than making building adaptations, accessibility issues can be ‘managed’ at a school level. For example swapping an inaccessible upstairs classroom with a ground floor classroom. This would be instead of installing an expensive lift. This would be a reasonable adjustment.

Schools are also expected to provide auxiliary aids or a service for a disabled pupil when it would be reasonable to do so.

Examples of auxiliary aids include:

  • Coloured overlays
  • pen grips
  • adapted physical education equipment
  • adapted cookery utensils
  • alternative recording methods such as computers/tablets  

Schools must plan ahead

A disabled pupil’s needs should be considered before and as part of planning any school activity.

As part of the Equality Act 2010, all schools must have an ‘accessibility plan’.

This plan must show how the school will:

  • make sure disabled pupils can access the learning
  • make sure disabled pupils are able to access the school site and facilities or services offered by the school
  • make sure information is accessible to pupils who are disabled

The accessibility plan must take account of the pupils’ disabilities. It should also consider the wishes of the pupils and their parents.

The SEND code of practice 2015, states schools must publish an SEN Information report.  It should include information about :

  • admissions of disabled pupils
  • what the school has done to prevent disabled pupils from being treated less favourably than other pupils
  • how disabled pupils are helped to access the school site and its facilities

Services that support schools to meet an individual pupil’s needs

The Council have many services to support children with disabilities in school. You can contact us for support if you feel your child’s needs are not met within school. The services can work with the school to make sure it makes reasonable adjustments.

What to do if you think your child’s needs are not being met by their school

In most cases, you should be able to resolve your problem informally. For example, by talking to your child’s teacher or head teacher.

If your problem isn’t resolved, you can make a formal complaint. You will need to follow the school’s complaints procedure. This generally involves complaining in writing to the head teacher and then to the governing body. Further information can be found below:

Further information

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and Motor Skills Development

  • Fine Motor Activities – activity pack. Contains information to support development of fine motor skills
  • Keeping Active at Home - activity pack and links to support development of motor skills
  • Skills to Support Handwriting: Activities to Try at Home Contains activities to support handwriting.
  • Dyspraxia Foundation – this website contains information for children/young people, parents and professionals. There are printable guides and information sheets. You can find how to access further support.
  • CanChild – a useful website which has information to help students with DCD.  Also has an online workshop module for school staff. This can increase confidence in supporting students with DCD
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) Pathway –  further information about Cornwall’s DCD pathway.  Use the DCDQ (questionnaire) to gather information. Usually this will be about a child/young person’s motor coordination needs.

Handwriting and using IT in School

Occupational Therapy Services

Bowel and Bladder Conditions

  • ERIC – Aimed at supporting children/young people with bowel and bladder conditions.  Also has information for schools to support and manage a student’s condition. Find sample care plans, resources and help sheets.
  • Bowel and Bladder UK -This organisation aims to improve awareness and solutions to bladder and bowel problems. Resources and leaflets. Free confidential advice via the Bladder and Bowel UK helpline

Physical Disabilities - useful links and support

  • The Child Brain Injury Trust . A charity that supports children, young people, their families and professionals. Helps them come to terms with what has happened and how to deal with the uncertainty that the future may hold
  • Cerebra Charity helping children with brain conditions. This website has downloadable parent guides
  • PDNet
  • Free to join, national network. Supports education professionals to promote positive outcomes. For children and young people with physical disability.  Includes links to free training, resources and the PD Net Forum. Free, online, self-evaluation tool for enables SENCOs

The Physical and Medical Needs Advisory Service can advise and support educational settings to make reasonable adjustments and take positive steps to in order to meet the curriculum access needs of children and young people with Special Educational Need and Disabilities.

The Physical and Medical Needs advisers can support an educational setting to identify and assess the access needs of individual children and young people in terms of access to:

  • the curriculum
  • the enrichment curriculum eg school clubs, school trips 
  • spoken and  written information and advice
  • the physical school site

Cornwall’s Local Authority Accessibility Strategy includes an Accessibility Audit Tool to support educational settings. The Accessibility Audit Tool supports settings in ensuring that they can: 

  • Identify adaptations needed, including adaptations for children and young people with sensory needs
  • Create solutions to accessibility issues if adaptations are not possible, such as moving groups to accessible areas
  • Use consultation effectively, asking children and young people about physical accessibility, e.g. access to toilets and changing facilities
  • Think creatively about classroom interiors, e.g. making calm, low-sensory stimulation areas available, thinking about the use of curtains to reduce noise levels, removing clutter etc.

Provision of Auxiliary aids and services

In September 2012 the duty to provide auxiliary aids and services (including specialist equipment which could include laptops and tablets) was extended to include schools. This places schools under a duty to provide aids and services where it is reasonable and where it would prevent a disabled pupil being put at a substantial disadvantage when compared to his or her non-disabled peers. The exception to this duty is where the aid or service is specified in a statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care Plan in which case the responsibility to provide the aid or service lies with the LA. Examples of auxiliary aids include coloured layovers, pen grips, adapted physical education equipment, adapted keyboards and computer software.

Further, more detailed, guidance information is available for schools from Physical and Medical Needs Advisors and also within the guidance document 'Provision of Equipment for Children and Young People with Access Needs which can be found within School Messenger.  

We welcome your feedback.

In the first instance please email with your compliments, comments or complaints.

Alternatively, you may visit the Together for Families compliments, comments and complaints page.

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