- The school policy
- The individual healthcare plan (IHP)
- Epilepsy medicines
- What should happen if my child has a seizure in school?
- School activities
The school must make sure that your child has what they need in order to take part in school life in the same way as anyone else. The school policy should include:
- Who is responsible for making sure there are enough staff trained to help your child
- A commitment that all staff who need to know are aware of your child’s medical condition
- Who can provide support for your child, when named staff are not there
- Information about your child for supply teachers
- Risk assessments for school visits, holidays and other school activities inside and outside of the normal timetable
- How your child’s IHP should be monitored
If you tell school that your child has epilepsy, they must make sure that there are arrangements in place to support your child. They should also make sure that school staff are properly trained to provide this support.
The information about your child’s medical condition and specific needs can be recorded in an IHP. This is a very individual document for each child. It makes it clear what specific support your child needs, when it should be provided and who is responsible for making sure that your child gets the support they need.
Not all children with epilepsy will need an IHP. For example, they might only ever have seizures in their sleep, and not have any other effects from their epilepsy. However, if you feel that your child should have an IHP, you should discuss this with their teacher. If there is disagreement about whether one is needed, the head teacher will make the final decision.
An IHP is where most children will have all the important information kept. This should include any educational needs, if these needs are not recorded anywhere else. If your child has both an IHP and an education and health care plan (EHCP) these two plans should be linked together.
To produce an IHP, the school should work together with you and your child, and a relevant healthcare professional. This could be your child’s epilepsy specialist or epilepsy specialist nurse or the school nurse. Here is a recommended list of things to discuss when you are developing an IHP for your child:
- Their type of epilepsy
- Their type of seizures
- What happens before, during and after a seizure
- How long their seizures last
- Appropriate first aid
- What the school should do after your child has had a seizure
- How long your child needs to rest following a seizure
- When the school should call an ambulance
- What the school should do in an emergency
- Triggers for your child’s seizures (if any)
- Any warnings your child has that they may be about to have a seizure (for example a headache or an aura)
- Any medicine they take, and when they need to take it
- Any medicine side-effects that the school needs to be aware of
- Any particular activities that you think may put your child at risk, and what can be done to reduce the risk
- Any adjustments that need to be made to the classroom environment, to support their learning
- Any other provisions the school needs to make, for example extra time in exams
- Any other medical conditions that your child has
- Who the healthcare professionals involved in your child’s care are
- Any behaviour or emotional issues that the school needs to be aware of
- Who else in school needs to know about your child’s epilepsy – class teacher, dinner time assistants and friends
An IHP should be easy to find for anyone who needs the information, but it should also make sure your child’s details stay confidential.
IHPs should be reviewed every year, or earlier if your child’s epilepsy or needs change. They should be developed with your child’s best interests in mind and ensure that the school assesses and manages risks to your child’s education, health and social wellbeing.
“I felt frustrated when I had to miss lots of classes because of my seizures and I could never concentrate properly but somehow school also made me feel normal, having the same work and rules as the other students.”Thea
Daily epilepsy medicines
If your child takes daily epilepsy medicine, you will usually be able to give them their doses outside school hours. The school should only give them medicine during school hours if it would be harmful to their health or school attendance if they didn’t.
Your child may have been prescribed emergency medicine, to stop seizures that last a long time or clusters of seizures.
Emergency medicines for seizures include buccal midazolam and rectal diazepam:
- Buccal midazolam is given to the child through a needle-free syringe, between the cheek and gum, and is absorbed through the cheek cells
- Rectal diazaepam is given through the child’s back passage
The law says that the school should offer any healthcare support necessary for your child. If your child needs their emergency medicine during school time, the head teacher can ask any member of staff to do this. However, the member of staff can refuse to do so and the head teacher will have to find somebody else who will.
The emergency medicine should only be given by a person trained in how to do this by a professional, such as an epilepsy specialist nurse. The people who can give it will be named in your child’s individual healthcare plan (IHP). Some people will have a separate care plan for their emergency medicine. A copy of this should be kept together with the IHP.
The school should keep a record every time your child is given emergency medicine. This should include what was given, how much, when and who by.
The school should keep emergency medicines stored in a safe and secure place, such as a locked cupboard. But they should be very easy to get hold of in an emergency. The expiry dates on the medicine should be checked regularly.
Epilepsy Action has IHPs, buccal midazolam care plans and rectal diazepam care plans
Training in giving emergency medicines
The law and guidance says education and health care needs should be looked at together. This means that the local authority and the local healthcare services should work together to have those needs in place. This should include:
- School staff getting their training needs met
- Clear expectations of their role
- Their ability to provide support for the child’s medical condition confirmed by a healthcare professional
- Cover arrangements for when they are unavailable
The school’s governing body should make sure sufficient staff receive appropriate training.
If your child has a seizure at school, any member of staff should know what to do to help. This might involve giving first aid or calling for a named person who knows what help your child needs.
If your child has an individual healthcare plan (IHP), this should have detailed information about their seizures and what first aid they need. IHPs should be easily accessible to all members of staff who might be with your child when they have a seizure.
After a seizure, your child might need to go to the school office or medical room to recover. They should not go there alone. School staff must make sure that a suitable person, such as an adult or a responsible pupil, goes with them.
What should happen if there is an emergency?
The school policy should make it clear what should happen in an emergency situation, for any child with a medical condition. If your child has epilepsy, an emergency situation at school would be if they:
- Had a single seizure or cluster of seizures that lasts for longer than five minutes, or longer than is usual for them
- Were severely injured as the result of a seizure
All school staff should be able to recognise what is happening and respond quickly. They will need to:
- Arrange for an ambulance to be called or
- Arrange for a named and trained member of staff to give your child emergency medicine or
- Arrange for appropriate first aid, if your child has been injured
If your child needs to go to hospital, staff should go with them in an ambulance or stay with them until you arrive at school.
How will people in school know how to respond to an emergency?
How a member of staff responds will depend on what the emergency is, and whether your child has an individual healthcare plan (IHP). An IHP should give clear and specific instructions about what to do in an emergency, and who should do it.
Here are some ways that the school can make sure that all staff know what to do in an emergency situation:
- All staff should receive general epilepsy awareness training
- When new members of staff start working at the school, they should receive epilepsy awareness training
- Individual healthcare plans should be easily accessible and familiar to all members of staff who need to refer to them
Pupils in school should know to tell a member of staff immediately if your child has a seizure and needs help. The school could give general epilepsy awareness training to the pupils, to make sure they recognise when a child may need help.
Where can the school get epilepsy awareness training?
Epilepsy Action provides:
- Epilepsy awareness training through its accredited volunteers
- Online resources for school staff
- Classroom resources for primary school children
Most children with epilepsy are covered by the equality laws in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland they are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. These laws are to make sure your child has the same access to school activities as any other pupil, wherever possible.
Your child should be allowed to take part in all school trips and activities, including those with overnight stays. They should not be prevented from taking part in any activities, unless a healthcare professional advises that the activities are dangerous.
When a school trip or activity is being planned, the organisers should do a risk assessment for your child. This will give them the opportunity to look at what extra help your child might need, because they have epilepsy. They can then decide on what they can do to make sure your child can take part fully and safely. This may involve being flexible and making reasonable adjustments. Reasonable adjustments are things a school might do to make it possible for a disabled child to join in an activity. An example would be having an extra adult on a trip who could take care of the child if they had a seizure.
You and your child should be involved in the risk assessment. You can help the organisers by sharing as much information as you can about your child’s epilepsy and the support they might need. You can also suggest reasonable adjustments they could make. The people doing the risk assessment should also get advice from a relevant medical professional, such as an epilepsy specialist or epilepsy specialist nurse.
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.
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 2016To be reviewed August 2019