Medical needs in schools

How schools should support children with medical requirements.

“Maintained schools must make arrangements to support children with medical conditions”

SEND Code of Practice (2015)

My child has a medical diagnosis. What will happen at school?

Sometimes, a medical condition makes it more difficult for a child to access education at school. For example:

  • they may be absent from school more often due to illness or medical appointments
  • they may be more tired than other children and find it difficult to concentrate and learn
  • their condition may mean they are bullied or socially isolated
  • they may need more supervision or help than other children, for example in swimming lessons
  • getting around the school may be difficult and they may need special equipment for this.

Sometimes, children with medical needs will be classed as having a special educational need. However, this is not always the case. Not all children with medical conditions will need an Education, Health and Care Plan. It is the child’s educational needs that must be considered, rather than their diagnosis.

What are reasonable adjustments?

The Equality Act says that schools must make reasonable adjustments for disabled children. This means that they make changes that will help children who need them.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments are:

  • training a member of staff to support a child using inhalers or insulin injections
  • providing alternative printouts for a child with visual impairment, for example with larger font
  • allowing items in packed lunches that would not usually be allowed, if a child needs extra calories
  • access to a laptop and special software if handwriting is not possible
  • allowing extra time for tasks such as moving between lessons or getting changed into PE kit.

You can read more about reasonable adjustments in schools.

More advice and guidance

  • There is legal guidance for schools with pupils with medical conditions on GOV.UK.

  • You can also find guidance on the West Sussex Tools for schools website.