Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar, tabled a written question that asked the Secretary of State for Education to bring forward legislative proposals requiring schools to support the health and well-being of children with (a) medical needs and (b) myalgic encephalomyelitis.
In a written answer on 7 June 2011, Minister of State for Children and Families at the Department of Education Sarah Teather replied:
There is already a legal duty on schools to promote the well-being of their pupils. Within that, it is for school governing bodies and local authorities, rather than central Government, to determine their own policies on supporting pupils with medical needs. Good schools and local authorities will work with parents and local health services so that the medical needs of children, such as those with myalgic encephalomyelitis, are met while they are at school.
As we said in the Schools White Paper, ‘The importance of Teaching’, good schools have a vital role as promoters of health and well-being in the local community, and have always had good pastoral systems. They understand well the connections between pupils’ physical and mental health and their educational achievement. We believe that the majority of the important work that schools do is not as a result of government prescription, and so the Department has no plans to change the existing arrangements or to bring forward new legislative proposals.
This Department, together with the Department of Health, produced guidance for schools in 2005, entitled ‘Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years’. This recommends, among other things, that there should be a clear policy in each school, an individual health care plan for any child with medical needs, and training for staff. The guidance can be found at:
We encourage other organisations, such as employer and staff associations and charities such as the ME Association, to play their part in supporting schools and parents and in sharing good practice.