The Health Conditions in Schools Alliance has submitted written evidence to the Children's and Families Bill.
Please find below the written submission for the Children and Families Bill which was sent to the committee on Thursday 7 March 2013, ahead of :
1. At least a million children of school age in England have a health condition. Many of them are struggling in their education because they are not receiving the right health support in school. The Children and Families Bill can be amended to change this.
2. The Health Conditions in Schools Alliance is a rapidly growing alliance of over 30 organisations working on behalf of these children.
3. Putting appropriate health support in educational settings will reduce long-term financial cost to the NHS, enable children to participate fully in their learning and help children achieve the best possible physical, mental and economic well-being later in life.
4. We welcome the Government’s aim to support families in balancing home and work life and ensure that all children and young people can succeed. Key to this is the support of children in schools.
5. However we are concerned that the Bill undermines this aim by omitting any consideration of support for children with health conditions.
6. The Bill should be strengthened to ensure support for children and young people with specified health conditions who are not classified as having Special Educational Needs.
7 Evidence from families collected by members of the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance shows that a voluntary approach does not go far enough. While some schools provide good support for children and young people with health conditions, many do not, and the end result is a lottery of support for children with health conditions.
Why change is needed
A Diabetes UK survey found: · In only 29 per cent of cases do school staff help with insulin injections, with 66 per cent of help coming from parents and a further 3 per cent from relatives. · In 47 per cent of cases, someone other than a member of school staff helped young people with blood glucose testing, including parents in 42 per cent of these cases. · 35 per cent of young people responding said their parents either had to give up work or reduce their hours to support them with their diabetes. · 46 per cent of young people do not have a healthcare plan for managing diabetes at school. Of those with a healthcare plan, 17 per cent did not feel confident that it was implemented.
Asthma UK has found that: - Only 24% of teachers would be completely confident if a child in their class experienced an asthma attack. - 87% of children and young people with asthma had missed at least one day of school because of their asthma. - 49% had problems joining in with general lessons. - 48% had problems going on school trips.
Children with migraine take on average between 32 days and three months off from school due to their migraine, in comparison with the general population who take between 3 and 13 days. Some of the difficulties children with migraine can face include: · Lack of support to catch up on work missed due to migraine. · Denied access to medication at the onset of an attack by school staff. · Exclusion from trips and activities due to poor attendance.
7.4 Heart Conditions
Congenital and acquired heart conditions (CHD) affects around 6000 children each year in the UK. Through advancements in medical science over 85 per cent now survive long into adulthood and as a result will move through the school and education system.
7.5 Those with congenital and acquired heart conditions have varying needs depending on the type and seriousness of their specific heart defect. Many will have learning difficulties and delays and those who do not may often have varying levels of ongoing health needs related to their condition.
8 In addition to this, many children with health conditions experience academic problems and social isolation because their needs are not properly addressed or understood. In some cases, their health and well-being is put unnecessarily at risk where they are:
8.1 Excluded from lessons such as PE, or left out of school trips, extra-curricular activities and social events.
8.2 Denied support and help to catch up with lessons they have missed because of ill health.
8.3 Made to eat alone if their food needs are different.
8.4 Denied access to their medicines when they may need them because the drugs are ‘safely locked away’.
8.5 Experience bullying as a direct result of their health condition.
9. Providing the necessary support to children in education settings will have both immediate and long term benefits, including:
9.1 Improved health and education outcomes for the million children with health conditions.
9.2 Reduction in the financial burden on the NHS through improved health.
9.3 Children who are able to participate fully in learning.
9.4 Children who are helped to achieve the best possible physical, mental and economic well-being later in life and realise their full potential.
9.5 Removal or reduction of the socio-economic burden on the state and on parents who have to give up their jobs or reduce their working hours in order to care for children at school.
10. To ensure all children with health conditions get the right support at school, schools should have statutory responsibilities to support the health and well-being of children with medical needs. This would include the following requirements that:
10.1 schools are required to produce and implement medical conditions policies. Such policies should specify aims, objectives, actions and outcomes.
10.2 all school staff are enabled to support children with health conditions through appropriate training and support incorporated in their professional development, and are then encouraged to play this role and gain professional recognition when they do so.
10.3 the school health workforce are supported so that they can effectively and safely support children and schools.
10.4 NHS bodies and local authorities have a statutory requirement to help schools fulfil their responsibilities.
10.5 school inspections look at how a school supports children with health conditions and what outcomes those children have, as part of well-being indicators.
11. What needs to change
The Health Conditions in Schools Alliance are calling for the addition to the Children and Families Bill of a new clause to ensure children with health conditions are not forgotten.
Standards for support of children and young people with specified health conditions, not classified as having special educational needs
The governing body must produce and implement a medical conditions policy that defines how it plans to support the needs of children with specified health conditions.
The medical conditions policy must include provision about:
a. The means by which records of the specified health conditions of children at the school are to be recorded and maintained; and
b. The preparation of an individual healthcare plan for each child with a specified health condition which sets out the needs of that child arising from that condition
The medical conditions policy must include requirements relating to the provision of appropriate training for school staff to support the implementation of individual healthcare plans.
In preparing an individual healthcare plan the governing body must –
a. Consult the parents of the child concerned and, where appropriate, the child about the contents of the plan; and
There shall be a duty on NHS bodies to co-operate with the governing body in its preparation and implementation of individual healthcare plans.
Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups must co-operate with governing bodies in fulfilling their functions under this Act.
The Secretary of State may by regulations define ‘specified health conditions’ for the purposes of this section.
For the purposes of this section ‘NHS bodies’ has the same meaning as in the Health and Social Care Act 2012
The Children and Families Bill provides an opportunity to give children with health conditions essential support in school. The Bill should be strengthened by the addition of this clause to give children the statutory support and protection they need.