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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Which laws support my child with getting the best care in school?

This information is for people living in England. It covers local authority schools, academies, private schools and free schools.

What do local authorities have to do for children with medical conditions?

If your child has a medical condition the school has to put things in place to support them. They have to do this whether or not your child has special educational needs. This is written in the Children and Families Act 2014. There is guidance to support this requirement. It explains in more detail what your local authority and school should do. Under the Act the school should provide the same opportunities for your child as any other child in the school. Here are the things a school should have in place for children with epilepsy:

  • A plan to ensure all staff and children have an understanding of epilepsy
  • If needed, a child’s epilepsy medicine in school and staff trained in how to give it
  • A clear understanding of what an emergency situation would be and how to respond to it
  • Individual healthcare plans including who will be responsible for what and when. This information should be collected by talking to the child, parents and healthcare professionals. And it should be reviewed on a regular basis

What do local authorities have to do for children with special educational needs?

The school has a duty to support your child with any special educational needs. The law is in Part 3 of the Children and Families Act. The updates and details are in the special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years January 2015.

The local authorities, school governing bodies, colleges, and a range of other bodies must ‘have regard to it’. This means they must consider what the code says, and have very good reasons for not following the guidance. This is what the local authority should do for children with special educational needs:

  • Consult with everyone involved
  • Find out what the need is and put resources in place
  • Make sure there are enough resources and check this regularly
  • Work with the relevant healthcare organisations for joined-up provision
  • Make sure their plans and resources are available for the public. This information is called the Local Offer
  • Enable children to stay in mainstream education wherever possible
  • Provide assessments and plans for children needing educational health and care assessments (EHCAs)

More information on education, health and care assessments (EHCA) and plans (EHCP)

The equality laws

In the UK most children diagnosed with epilepsy will be covered by the Equality Act 2010 in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland it’s the Disability Discrimination Act. This means that they must not be discriminated against. This includes making sure they have the same access to school activities as any other pupil, wherever possible.

Extra information on epilepsy in schools in Northern Ireland

Local authority and schools policies for children with medical conditions and children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland
For people living in Northern Ireland the policies for supporting children with medical conditions are similar to those for England but the laws behind them have different names. Supporting pupils with medication needs 2008  

This policy describes the appropriate care and support for children with medical needs in school. One difference is that it says there is some insurance cover for staff administering emergency medicine.

If your child has special educational needs which are not being met you can ask for a statutory assessment. This needs to be in writing, to the Special Educational Needs section of your local Education and Library board.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 (SENDO)
This improved the existing rights of children with special educational needs under the Education (NI) Order 1996 to be educated in a mainstream school. It also introduced disability discrimination legislation to cover schools, further and higher education and general qualification bodies.

The Dispute avoidance and resolution service (DARS) is an independent service which can help if you have problems communicating with the school or local authority. You would need to contact your local board.

For a range of government information on special educational needs
Website: nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services

Extra information on epilepsy in schools in Scotland

Local authority and schools policies for children with medical conditions and children with special educational needs in Scotland
For people living in Scotland the policies for supporting children with medical conditions are similar to those for England but the laws behind them have different names.

The Education (Scotland) Act 2016

This will improve rights for children and offer a support service. It should start happening in 2017.

The Children and Young Person (Scotland) Bill 2014 says that the local authority is responsible for your child’s wellbeing.

The Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils’ Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2003. This act talks about the importance of:

  • Your child being able to access educational and connected services
  • Having a plan for how your child is supported
  • Improving communication between the school, your child and you
  • Where to find helpful resources and organisations
  • Consulting with all involved parties

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 says that the Education Authority has a duty to meet, keep and review the requirements of any child with possible additional support needs. This includes pupils with medical conditions. Additional support needs are defined as anything acting as barrier to your child’s learning and educational experience.

You have a right to request that your child is assessed for possible additional support needs. You may be offered a co-ordinated support plan, or a review of your child’s existing plan. If you have problems with the assessment you can appeal to the Additional Support Needs tribunal.


The Enquire website supports parents and carers of children in Scotland with additional support needs. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.00 to 4.30.

Tel: 0345 123 2303

Extra information on epilepsy in schools in Wales

Local authority and schools policies for children with medical conditions and children with special educational needs in Wales
The guidance for Wales is currently under review. Once the updated version has been published we will update our information. May 2016

Access to education and support for children and young people with medical needs 2010
This is a long and detailed document which covers all aspects of school life and how your child should be supported. It has key actions points and good practice guides in purple boxes throughout the document. At the end are a number of forms and templates covering areas such as school policy, individual healthcare plans and parental consent forms. Here are pages for some of the most relevant information:

  • Special education needs/statutory assessment p5
  • Healthcare plans pp20–22
  • School training p24
  • School trips p27
  • Administering medicines p41
  • Guidance on school policies for supporting children and young people with medical needs p72–73

Initals and their meanings

  • LA: local authority
  • CCG: clinical commissioning group
  • SEN: special educational needs
  • SEND: special educational need and disability
  • IHP: Individual healthcare plan
  • EHCA: education, health and care assessment
  • EHCP: education, health and care plan

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.

Event Date: 
Monday 8 August 2016 - 12:01

Epilepsy Action would like to thank June Massey, Specific Learning Difficulties Consultant, for checking this information.

June Massey has no conflict of interest to declare.

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated August 2016
    To be reviewed August 2019

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