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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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How to get the support your child needs when they are in school.

Talking to your child’s school

School plays an important part in most children and young peoples’ lives. School is the place where children develop friendships, learn to be part of a social group and of course access an education that will eventually lead to qualifications and skills for employment later in life.

Disruption to school because of acute or chronic illness can have a significant impact on children’s social, emotional and educational development.

Schools have a duty to support continuity of education if a child is in hospital or unable to go back to school following a stay in hospital.

A medical or mental health condition may cause frequent short absences or times when part-time attendance is the most that students can manage. Whatever the nature of the disruption it is vital that schools do all they can to give a child or young person the best possible chance of continuing their education. 

As a parent or carer, you can help by talking to your child’s school.

  • Make sure the school lets your child know about school news and events. Children like to know what is going on even if they are unable to attend. The school can email/call the hospital teachers.

Getting the support your child needs

Knowing who can help you get the right support for your child can seem like a challenge. It is good to talk to someone at the school so that you can pass on information about the condition and about your child’s treatment regime so that school staff can be aware of any specific care or requirements. You and your child will know best what is helpful.

  • A good place to start is by talking to the SENDCO They are responsible for drawing up an Individual Health Care Plan and for informing school staff of specific needs and of any adjustments to school routines or protocols.
  • Some hospitals have a Clinical Nurse Specialist or a Psychologist who can meet with school staff to help them understand the needs of children and young people living with specific chronic medical conditions. Ask about this service before leaving the hospital or at an outpatient clinic.
  • Good communication is vital for keeping everyone informed of changes in treatments and school requirements. One point of contact is often helpful. This could be the SENDCO or another designated staff member. Agree on this when drawing up an Individual Healthcare Plan.

Where can you get help and support for yourself?

Charities and organisations that offer information and advice for parents/carers

Young Minds

Young Minds, a leading mental health advice charity, run a Parents Helpline offering advice to parents and carers worried about a child or young person under 25. They also offer more general advice for parents.

Getting support for SEN and Disability

IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice)

Comprehensive advice for parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)