ASL Myth: Schools have a duty to provide intimate care to pupils

In most cases, if a child has medical needs which result in them requiring intimate care (such as help with toileting), schools manage this internally through staff members volunteering to support a child. Good practice guidance on providing intimate care states that staff who are providing intimate care should be trained and that children should be treated with dignity (Paragraph 66 of “The Administration of Medicines in Schools”).

If the school is not able to identify a volunteer, the local authority should work with the NHS board to identify a solution. If, whilst making these arrangement, a child is unable to attend school, efforts should be made to ensure they do not miss out on their education. Our factsheet When a child can’t go to school explains this in more detail. If parents have concerns about the arrangements for their child’s intimate care, they should contact the school to discuss their questions.

Under the Equality Act 2010 schools must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled pupils can fully participate in their education and that they can enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services which the school provides for pupils. Providing intimate care can be viewed as a reasonable adjustment in some cases but not others. The Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) can provide advice on whether the failure to provide intimate care for a child would amount to discrimination. Their helpline number is 0808 800 0082.

It is worth noting that the Scottish Government, in partnership with health and education agencies, is currently reviewing guidance on supporting children with healthcare needs.

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