Supporting pupils with medical needs

Updated April 2020 An accessible policy document from

Our policy for the education of children and young people unable to attend school because of health needs

April 2020
July 2021
To be reviewed
Allyson Poole


This policy sets out South Tyneside Council’s standards for the education of children and young people who are unable to attend school because of health needs. The authority recognises that all children and young people are entitled to an education of high quality and is committed to ensuring that the needs of this vulnerable group are met.

We recognise that there is a shared responsibility between the local authority, schools and partner agencies to successfully implement this policy. It is centred on high quality integrated service provision in order to promote better outcomes for this cohort of children and young people.

Statutory framework

In December 2015 the Department for Education published statutory guidance entitled ‘Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions’ which was later updated in August 2017. This replaced previous ‘Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs – Statutory guidance for local authorities’ and ‘Access to Education for Children and Young People with Medical Needs’ (2001). It provides comprehensive guidance to local authorities and related services. Roles and responsibilities, including those of the local authority and school are outlined in detail. This policy should be read alongside this guidance and any future relevant guidance. It also places a clear responsibility on Governing Bodies to support pupils at school with medical needs.

There is a requirement that each local authority publish a policy detailing standards, procedures and responsibilities for those pupils unable to attend school due to health medical needs. In line with Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 we have a duty to:

make arrangements for the provision of suitable education at school or otherwise than at school for those children of compulsory school age who, by reason of illness, or otherwise, may not for any period receive suitable education unless such arrangements are made for them.

This policy sets out the roles and responsibilities of the local authority and schools as well as placing responsibility on governing bodies to meet the responsibilities to meet the needs of the children based on good practice. The aim is to ensure that all children with medical conditions, in terms of both physical and mental health are fully supported within school so that they can play a full and active role in school life, remain healthy and achieve their academic potential.

South Tyneside Council is responsible for ensuring that pupils with health needs are not at home or in hospital for more than 15 working days without access to education: this may be consecutive or cumulative with the same medical condition. Where appropriate a child/young person who has a planned absence for medical reasons which might go beyond 15 days should have access to education from day 1 of the planned absence. Effective liaison with medical professionals will ensure that there is a minimum of delay in starting appropriate support.

Number of hours of education

South Tyneside Council will arrange suitable equivalent full time education (or as much education as the child’s health allows) for children of compulsory school age who, because of illness, would otherwise not receive suitable education.

Unless the pupil’s condition means that full time provision would not be in his or her best interests. Full-time education is not defined in law but it should equate to what the pupil would normally have in school, e.g. for pupils in KS4 full time education in a school would usually be 25 hours a week. However, 1:1 tuition can be extremely intensive and would be inappropriate and intrusive to both the pupil and the family. Work can be provided to be completed independently by the young person or where appropriate can be supplemented by virtual programmes of study.

Medical Tuition is not intended as a full time, long term alternative to an educational placement. However, if pupils are well enough to receiving this level of tuition then plans should be being implemented to re-integrate them back into school.

Named officer

South Tyneside is responsible for ensuring there is a named senior officer with responsibility for the provision of education for children and young people who are unable to attend school because of medical needs. In this authority it is Allyson Poole, who oversees the Medical Home Team which is part of SEND, Access and Inclusion Service.

Aims of the service

  • Minimise disruption to learning
  • Deliver an appropriate and personalised education. Wherever possible tuition will be delivered in their own school or a public venue such as a library.
  • Successfully reintegrate/ re-engage pupils into mainstream provision at the earliest opportunity when they are well enough to return.

Objectives of the appropriate provider

Educational provision for pupil’s who are physically ill, injured or who have clinically defined mental health problems is the responsibility of all schools and educational services.

The purpose of Medical Tuition is to provide an education for those pupils who have been referred by a medical consultant where attendance in school would prove difficult.

A clear and concise plan to support the tuition will be devised through Early Help protocols involving all agencies involved with the young person.

Progress of those pupils accessing Medical Tuition will be reviewed each half term and the plan will be updated. As part of the Early Help process, professionals would ascertain whether a request for an Education Health Care Plan would be appropriate to support those pupils with more complex long term needs.

Referral process

Pupils can be referred for Medical Tuition in the following circumstances:

  1. When absence from school due to a serious illness or accident is expected to be in excess of three school weeks.
  2. When after discharge from hospital the period of convalescence is likely to be three school weeks or more.
  3. When serious illness causes regular intermittent absences from school over a prolonged period of time.
  4. Prolonged and regular absence due to an ongoing medical condition which is supported by a consultant or in short term situations by a GP.
  5. Where absence is planned in relation to a medical procedure or condition and will go beyond 15 days and access to education from day 1 of the absence may be required.

The Attendance Monitoring Team / school make referrals for Medical Tuition directly to The Teacher with responsibility for Medical Tuition, but they will require the agreement of the child’s Consultant or the Medical Officer.

Referrals for pupils with established patterns of non-attendance due to school phobia or severe anxiety

  1. All referrals must come through an Early Help Assessment and plan which demonstrates the schools involvement with the pupil and the strategies considered while attempting to re-engage the pupil in education.
  2. All pupils with emotional difficulties must have the involvement of the CYPS team. This involvement must have resulted in a diagnosis of a ‘School Phobic’ problem. The CYPS team must refer in writing to the agreement to Medical Tuition.
  3. Supporting material can be submitted from other involved agencies but will not be considered on its own.


A Medical Tutor will be assigned to the pupil and their school will be informed who will contact both parents/carers and school.

Schools MUST have two named people through whom liaison should occur. One should be the Head Teacher in case of staff absence.

Where possible, the pupil will continue with current programmes of study to support the successful return to school. The school should provide the tutor with all the relevant materials / resources for the work.

The Medical Tutor will make additional visits to the school in order to exchange work and materials.

If possible, the tutor will work with the pupil in their school environment to maintain close contact with staff and peers as well as supporting the re-engagement back into lessons. A range of venues such as libraries / children centres may be used to deliver the tuition.

Hours of tuition are personalised depending on pupil need / as much as their health will allow. Tuition will be suitable to the child’s age, aptitude and ability and can be increased / decreased as appropriate. If possible virtual learning should be used to supplement the learning. Homework can be set to reinforce learning and also to meet the deadlines of external examinations.

Withdrawl of tuition

In the unlikely event of this measure being necessary, tuition will be withdrawn if the pupil fails to attend or make themselves unavailable for tuition on a regular basis without the proof of a medical basis to their inability to attend. Tuition will then cease until an agreement has been reached between the involved agencies outlining a way forward.

Tuition will also be withdrawn if the pupil refuses to follow a therapeutic programme recommended by any other agency such as reintegration programme into a suitable educational environment.

Anyone wishing to appeal against this process should do so to the Service Manager: SEND, Access and Inclusion.

The role of the school: assessment, referral and communication

The Medical Tutor will maintain good links with the child or young person’s home school and, through regular reviewing, involve them in decisions concerning the educational programme and pupil progress. This should also include social and emotional needs, for example ensuring that learners feel fully part of their school community, are able to stay in contact with classmates and have access to the opportunities enjoyed by their peers.

The school should be aware of its continuing role in the child or young person’s education whilst they are not attending, for example, through providing relevant assessment information, supplying curriculum materials and books, liaising with Medical Tutors over planning and examination course requirements where appropriate, and ensuring that there are named teachers within school who can coordinate and support these links. All pupils will remain on roll on their home school and the prime responsibility for their education lies with that school. Regular contact should be maintained between the school and the pupil.

Assessment of pupils needs

As soon as Medical Tuition has been agreed, schools are required to provide baseline assessment information and curriculum plans to inform the planning of educational provision. This information, along with advice from medical professionals, will ensure that the education provided is effectively matched to the child or young person’s unique needs.

Monitoring pupil progress

A pupil’s objectives and individual education plans should be prepared by the tutor in consultation with the school, should be in writing and should be regularly reviewed and monitored by all parties, including the learner and their parent/carers. Progress of the child/ young person will be monitored on a half termly basis driven by the school through Early Help meetings / medical reviews.

Good quality, flexible provision to meet individual needs

The education provided should be tailored to the learner’s individual educational needs and the impact of their medical condition on their ability to access education. Use of baseline assessment, information from the home and school will inform individual education plans, which should be suitable and flexible enough to be appropriate to the learners needs. The nature of the provision should also reflect the demands of what can be a changing or fluctuating medical condition.

Schools are responsible for monitoring the quality of the provision for the individual learner, for example through regular reviewing.

Online learning tools

Online learning tools can be used to support the learner’s education. The learner should, where available, have access to ICT equipment and to the school’s intranet and internet. However, this will not be used in isolation and should complement face to face education.


We recognise that, whenever possible, pupils should receive their education within their mainstream school and the aim of the provision will be to reintegrate pupils back into mainstream education at the earliest opportunity, as soon as they are well enough. Arrangements for reintegration will be discussed with school staff and each child will have a personalised reintegration plan.

Each education provider should also make reasonable adjustments to alleviate disadvantage faced by disabled children, and plan to increase disabled children’s access to their premises and their curriculum.

Arrangements for external examinations

Learners will be supported by their home school to sit key stage tests and public examinations. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure learners are prepared for and entered for public examinations and national tests, and should meet all the fees associated with this process. Special arrangements for taking external examinations should be discussed and agreed at regular review meetings and implemented by the school.

Funding of provision

Medical Tuition should be a temporary measure. The funding of this tuition will be provided in the short term by a tutor from the Medical Home Tuition Team. The period of tuition is identified in consultation with the consultant / paediatrician who advises when the pupil is fit to return to school. Should there be a need to continue with tuition due to illness and pupil absence from school to continue, this will be discussed at the EH review / medical review meeting and advice given on applying for continued support.

Appendix 1

Schools’ responsibilities

The school will retain the funding for the pupil whilst on their roll and will remain responsible for:

  • Arrange regular half termly meetings to include parents and all agencies to review the education being provided
  • A PEP (Personal Education Plan) where the child is looked after;
  • Ensuring that regular plans of work are made available to the Medical Tutor identified for all subjects that the pupil would be normally studying. (This will aid successful reintegration by helping the pupil feel confident that they have covered a similar programme of work to their peers);
  • Providing appropriate resource materials. These will be returned when the pupils have finished with them;
  • Marking all work;
  • Examination entry fees;
  • Making arrangements for examinations including all external examinations;
  • Career interviews;
  • Work experience placements;
  • Informing all other agencies of any alterations to the planned programme of support for the pupil;
  • Monitoring the pupil’s attendance and marking the register so that it shows if a pupil is or ought to be, receiving education otherwise than at school.
  • Providing two named contacts within the school to aid communication and attend reviews;
  • Procedures ensuring where appropriate, the pupils is successfully reintegrated into school; and
  • Issues related to a pupil with an Education Health Care Plan.

The Medical Home Tuition team’s responsibilities

These include:

  • Provision and deployment of a tutor;
  • Delivering an appropriate broad and balanced curriculum;
  • Ensuring tutors provide reports outlining the pupil’s progress and achievements for the EH / medical review meetings;
  • Monitoring of the quality of the provision;
  • Completing accurate attendance and progress records which will be sent to the school and the Local Authority;
  • Implementing agreed reintegration programmes; and
  • Attending, where possible, EH review meetings.

Summary flow chart

  1. Schools identify pupil for Medical Tuition Confirmed by consultant / GP
  2. Referral / RA completed by School or Attendance Team
  3. Form acknowledged and forwarded to paediatric consultant to authorise and identify period of time
  4. Tutor identified and support agreed Details of referral / visit to school for work / home visit
  5. Tuition begins
  6. Monitoring visit to check appropriate levels of tuition / setting up virtual programme if appropriate 4 – 6 weeks after tuition begins
  7. Ongoing monitoring EH Review led by school
  8. Half termly reports provided by tutors for EH Review
  9. Reintegration programme Personalised to individual needs