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Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs

At Learning Insights we have been assessing individuals, adults and children, for many years with a very broad range of medical conditions, from the more common ones such as anorexia, seizures, cerebral palsy, M.E., chronic fatigue, diabetes, irritable bowel, essential tremors, to less common ones, where sometimes there can be severe deterioration, but the underlying cause is not yet fully understood.

Statutory guidance for local authorities was produced in January 2013, from the Department for Education. Local authorities (LA's) must have regard to it when carrying out their duty to arrange suitable full-time education (or part-time when appropriate for the child’s needs) for children who are unable to attend a mainstream or special school because of their health. This duty applies to all children and young people who would normally attend mainstream schools, including Academies, Free Schools, independent schools and special schools, or where a child is not on the roll of a school. It applies equally whether a child cannot attend school at all or can only attend intermittently.

LA's are responsible for arranging suitable full-time education for permanently excluded pupils, and for other children who, because of illness or other reasons, would not receive suitable education without such provision. This means that where a child cannot attend school because of health problems and would not otherwise receive a suitable full-time education, the LA is responsible for arranging provision and must have regard to this guidance.

There will be a wide range of circumstances where a child has a health need but will receive suitable education that meets their needs without the intervention of the LA. For example, where the child can still attend school with some support and where the school has made arrangements to deliver suitable education outside of school for the child, or where arrangements have been made for the child to be educated in a hospital by an on-site hospital school. The LA is not expected to become involved in such arrangements unless it had reason to think that the education provided to the child was not suitable or, while otherwise suitable, was not full-time or for the number of hours the child could benefit without adversely affecting their health. This might be the case where, for example, the child can attend school but only intermittently.

LA's should demonstrate that they have considered this statutory guidance and if they do not follow it, have reasonable grounds for deciding not to do so.

If you have concerns that your child or young person cannot access or benefit from the education and learning opportunities being offered to them, then CONTACT US at Learning Insights.

Further sources of information

Further guidance on a LA’s duty under section 19 of the Education Act 1996 and guidance on support provided in-school can be found in: 
Education for children with health needs who cannot attend school

Alternative Provision: A guide for local authorities, head teachers and governing bodies of schools, pupil referral units and other providers of alternative provision:
Alternative provision

Advice to schools on attendance:
School attendance (this page will move at the end of March)

If you have concerns that your child or young person cannot access or benefit from the education and learning opportunities being offered to them, do CONTACT US at Learning Insights.





Being able to express yourself, find pleasure in life and reach your goals is something everyone would like.  We help those we see to do it healthily, safely and for the long term.

Call us if you would like help to achieve this.  CONTACT US