Supporting children who are unable to attend school because of medical and / or health needs


The government publishes guidance for support of pupils with medical conditions in School.

This guidance applies to governing bodies of maintained schools. It is also for academies and Alternative Provision Academies (APAs).

Early years settings should continue to apply the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Aim of the legislation and guidance

The aim of the legislation and guidance is to make sure that: 

  • pupils with medical conditions (both physical and mental health) are properly supported in school so that they can:
    • remain healthy
    • play a full and active role in school life. This includes taking part in physical education and school trips 
    • achieve their academic potential
  • school leaders consult health and social care professionals, pupils and parents/carers. This informs them to meet the needs of children with medical conditions. 

Supporting pupils with medical conditions policy

The following are required to have a policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions:

  • governing bodies
  • proprietors of academies

It should be reviewed often. It must also be accessible to parents/carers and school staff.

There is only an exception to this if you prove a good reason not to.

The policy should include:

  • a named person who has responsibility for implementing the policy
  • what procedures a school follows if it is notified that a pupil has a medical condition
  • the role of individual healthcare plans, and who handles their development
  • roles and responsibilities of all those involved in the arrangements
  • what staff support will help carry out their roles about pupils with medical conditions
  • arrangements for whole school awareness training. This makes sure staff are aware of the school’s policy. It should explain their role in implementing that policy
  • arrangements for condition-specific training to enable staff to support pupils
  • arrangements for children who are can manage their own health needs and medicines
  • medicine management procedures
  • what should happen in an emergency situation
  • arrangements that support pupils' inclusion in school trips/visits and sporting activities
  • explicit guidance about what practice is not acceptable. See page 19 of ’Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions’ for examples
  • details of the school’s insurance arrangements. These should cover staff supporting pupils with medical conditions
  • how complaints about support provided to pupils with medical conditions are made and handled

Guidance for families on supporting pupils with medical conditions at School 

Medical Needs Policy

This policy document outlines the support available within Cornwall that can be accessed by statutory school age pupils who have health and / or medical needs. 

Under section 19 of the Education Act 1996, Councils are responsible for:  arranging suitable education for pupils who because of illness or other reasons – would not receive suitable education without such arrangements being made.

This policy provides information for schools, parents and pupils in Cornwall specifically in relation to children who cannot attend school due to medical / health reasons and where the education is severely disrupted as a result.

Pupils not attending school because of other reasons are covered by the DfE statutory guidance relevant, or most relevant, to the nature and circumstances of the pupil’s absence.

View the policy

Individual Healthcare Plans

Individual healthcare plans:

  • may be initiated, in consultation with the parent/carer. A member of school staff or a healthcare professional will make them
  • should be drawn up in partnership between the school, parents, and a relevant healthcare professional. This might be a school, specialist or children’s community nurse. It is best from someone who knows the particular needs of the child
  • should involve the child/young person whenever it is appropriate
  • should capture the steps which a school should take to help the child manage their condition. It should overcome any potential barriers to getting the most from their education
  • show who will take the lead in writing the plan. The responsibility for finalising and implementing it rests with the school
  • should be reviewed at least once a year. Earlier if there is evidence that the child’s needs have changed

Where the child has a special educational need identified in a statement or EHC plan, the individual healthcare plan should be linked to it. It can also become part of that statement or EHC plan.

Please see pages 9–11 of the school’s guidance for more detailed information.  You will be able to find out about individual healthcare plans.

The guidance includes the model process for developing individual healthcare plans.

Children who need palliative care

This resource has been put together by Together for Short Lives.  This is a registered charity.

It is a resource for schools to support children and young people who are receiving palliative care.

For further support and information, please visit the Together for Short Lives website.

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