Epilepsy Action has been involved in the making of an hour long epilepsy feature on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Shelagh Fogarty show. The programme focused on children with epilepsy and the support they should receive in schools. It also looked at what health services should be in place to support children with epilepsy.
As part of the show Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive at Epilepsy Action, highlighted how many schools do not have a policy in place to support children with epilepsy. He also explained that a 2012 Epilepsy Action survey revealed that 40 per cent of teachers think that pupils with epilepsy are not achieving in line with their classmates.
To improve things, Epilepsy Action would like to see all children with long term health conditions such as epilepsy have an individual healthcare plan (Pictured are Graice Ling, aged six, left, and Joseph Ling, aged nine, right. From All Saints Primary School, Llanedeyrn, Cardiff. They received an Epilepsy Action award for their oustanding work helping pupils with epilepsy). An individual healthcare plan outlines information about a child’s epilepsy and seizures and how to deal with them. Epilepsy Action would also like a written epilepsy policy in place in every school. This is a document which outlines how the school will support pupils with epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action - along with an alliance of other health charities - is currently lobbying for an amendment to the Children and Families Bill, currently being debated in Parliament. The amendment would make it a requirement for schools to prepare an individual healthcare plan for each child in their school with a health condition such as epilepsy.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Simon Wigglesworth said: “Large numbers of schools don’t have an epilepsy policy for their children. If they have a child with epilepsy at the school….then they should have a specific policy that explains both to parents and to staff what to do if a child has epilepsy or has an epileptic seizure. This would provide practical guidance and information so that the schools can support children with epilepsy (Pictured left is five year-old George Warmington, who has epilepsy, heading off to lunch with his class mates).
“Ideally it will include an individual healthcare plan for the child. This would detail the type of information teachers and other support staff would need to know - so the type of seizures they experience, what might trigger them... and what to do if the child has a seizure."
“The key to getting these things right is communication and information.”
Several people affected by epilepsy and Professor Helen Cross, The Prince of Wales’s Chair of Childhood Epilepsy and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Neurology at UCL-Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, London and Young Epilepsy, Lingfield, were also interviewed as part of the programme.
You can listen to an excerpt from the show on the BBC website here.