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Advice for parents

My child has healthcare needs

Lots of pupils have healthcare needs that mean they need some extra help or support at school. It may be because they are ill for a short period of time, have a medical condition that needs on-going management, they may need emergency treatment, or have medically difficulties related to going to the toilet. Most children with healthcare needs are able to continue to attend school regularly with the right practical and emotional support.

Health professionals and schools should work closely together to make sure that children with healthcare needs have all the help and support necessary to reach their potential.

If your child needs to take medication while they are at school, the school should work together with you and the health professionals who are supporting your child to make sure appropriate arrangements are in place. The NHS is legally responsible for medicines in schools. Good practice guidance suggests that the school should have a health plan in place for children who need help with medication.

Scottish Government guidance for schools to help them support children with healthcare needs, including the administration of medicine is currently under review. This page will be updated as soon as the new guidance is published.

If your child has medical needs that mean they need intimate care (such as help with toileting), in most cases schools will manage this internally through staff members volunteering to support them. Staff helping your child with intimate care needs should be trained and children should be treated with dignity.

If the school isn’t able to identify someone to help, they should work with the local NHS Board to find a solution. If your child isn’t able to attend school while arrangements are made, the school will need to make sure that they don’t miss out on their education. You can find more information about this in the ‘Missing school due to ill health’ section of our website, and in our When a child can’t go to school factsheet.

Under the Equality Act 2010, schools must make reasonable adjustments to make sure that disabled pupils can fully participate in their education and benefit from all the services and facilities a school offers. Depending on their needs, children with longer-term health conditions may be considered as 'disabled'. In some cases providing intimate care or making arrangements for medication to be given might be considered reasonable adjustments. The Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) can provide advice about whether not doing this might be considered discrimination.

If your child is unable to attend school because they are unwell, they still have a right to an education, and the school should make alternative arrangements so that they can continue to learn. More information about this can be found in the ‘My child is missing school due to ill health’ section of our website.

You can:

- ask for a meeting with a teacher at the school and any health professionals working with your child if you think their health needs are not being met
- share examples of where you think their needs are not being met
- ask for a review of their health and/or educational plan if they have one
- ask that a health or learning plan is set up if they don’t already have a written plan.

Possible conversation starters
- Could we discuss the help my child needs to go to the toilet? Twice last week there was not a member of staff available to help.
- Some staff don’t seem to know about my child health needs. How can we make sure all the staff understand her needs?

Contact the Enquire Helpline on 0345 123 2303

Helpline open today 9.00am - 4:30pm.


Enquire’s Parents’ Guide

Our easy to read guide explains you and your child’s rights, local authorities’ duties, what to expect at meetings and much more.

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Blog/Additional support needs

Supporting pupils with health needs

Read our case study about supporting a primary school pupil with diabetes.

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