Parliamentary Question: supporting children with medical needs in school, 8 June 2011

The Countess of Mar tabled a written question that asked the Government whether they will strengthen the voluntary responsibility placed on schools to support the health and well-being of children with medical needs, especially those with fluctuating conditions such as CFS/ME, by requiring all schools to implement medical condition policies.

In a written answer on 8 June 2011, Lord Hill of Oareford (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools) 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 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 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), are met while they are at school.

As the Department for Education said in the Schools White Paper, entitled ‘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. The Government believes that much of the important work that schools do is not as a result of central prescription, and so has no plans to change the existing arrangements or to bring forward new legislative proposals.

This Department, together with the Department of Health, provides guidance for schools in ‘Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years’ (published in 2005). 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:

www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationdetail/page1/DFES-1448-2005

We encourage other organisations, such as employer and staff association and charities such as the ME Association, to play their part in supporting schools and parents and in sharing good practice.

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