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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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16 year old with CFS unable to do GCSEs

I'm looking for advice for my daughter who is 16 and due to sit GCSEs this summer but she has missed almost two years of school with intermittent attendance. She has a CFS diagnosis following glandular fever in Y9 and is under the care of the specialist team at the Evelina. She would like to try to retake Year 11 and take GCSEs in 2023 and then proceed to 6th form. Her current school does not accommodate this and neither does the academy where she was very much hoping to go to sixth form. We are looking for schools or other forms of education that can support her. Your advice on wider strategies would also be very much appreciated.

We're sorry to hear that your daughter has missed so much school due to her medical needs. This is exactly why we are working to raise awareness of the disadvantage faced by many children and young people who have school interrupted by chronic or acute illness.

Your report of having trouble arranging for her to have an additional year in school to do her GCSEs is one we hear often. Unfortunately, there isn't anything in the Government guidance to schools that specifically addresses this point so schools are at liberty to make individual decisions. We know that the majority of schools are reluctant for students to resit a year or enter school out of their chronological age. It's not always clear why but it can be down to funding as well as concerns that students will miss key cut-off points for access to certain types of courses. When working with students and families in these situations we suggest the following, some of which you may have tried already, but I'll list them here.

Talk directly to the school, who given the nature of your daughter's health needs, should have been liaising and working with you to support her education. The SENDCO and a senior leader may be a place to start. If you are not happy with the school's response you can write to the Governors, there should be a SEND named governor, they should have oversight of medical needs.

The local authority will have a policy on medical needs, you could approach them also. All local authorities must have an independent Special educational needs and disability information and advice service. (SENDIAS). They can advise you on services in your local area and your legal rights in relation to access to education. This is a link to the Wandsworth service I'm not sure where you are resident but all local authorities will have a service. You should contact the one in your local area. A young person living with a chronic illness is covered by SEND.

You mention she is under the care of Evelina. If you haven't already made contact with the hospital school this may be a helpful point of contact for local knowledge about services. You can contact them here
We know that some colleges have been very supportive of young people with medical needs so this route may also be worth exploring.

Morley College have been very helpful to some families though the courses offered are mainly applied.

I hope this is at least helpful in suggesting possible avenues to explore.

Kind Regards.
Well at School Team


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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)