Schools Must Support Children with Epilepsy, Says Gove
Schools in the UK should be legally required to support children with long-term health conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and asthma, secretary of state for education Michael Gove has proposed.
In a written statement submitted to the House of Lords this week, the minister suggested the Children and Families Bill be amended to incorporate a “clear requirement on all types of state schools” to make arrangements for the care of these pupils.
Mr Gove said he had met with various health organisations, charities, parents and teachers before arriving at the conclusion that statutory guidance was required to improve the quality of school support for children whose health needs continuous management.
“Whilst a vast majority of schools take these issues seriously, it is clear some families have had poor experiences,” he explained.
“This new duty, underpinned by statutory guidance, will help schools to ensure that they are taking reasonable action to support children with medical conditions, where necessary.”
He added that the proposed amendment would also give parents confidence that their children’s requirements are paid sufficient attention to by teachers and school authorities, and ensure that the pupils themselves enjoy better educational outcomes than they might have had without proper care.
Mr Gove said the statutory guidance would be drafted in collaboration with health organisations, parents and teachers, building on established models of good practice, before being subject to a public consultation in the new year.
He added that it would not apply to younger children “as there is already sufficient coverage of this issue in the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage”.
The Children and Families Bill is intended to improve the way the government provides for vulnerable young people, for instance those from difficult family backgrounds or with special educational needs.
“Throughout the passage of the Bill, there has been much debate about the needs of children with long-term medical conditions, such as diabetes and epilepsy,” Mr Gove commented.