It’s to be expected that every heart child will have some additional needs at school, depending on their condition and how much extra support they need. For many children, it’s about reduced stamina and being able to take things at their own pace – they may need extra time changing classrooms and getting ready for PE, or time off for hospital appointments. More complex conditions may require more intervention and help with learning.
Every heart child will have individual needs that should be sensitively assessed and properly managed to provide appropriate support within the school environment and to ensure a safe learning experience.
The following information can be used by parents/carers and young people with heart conditions to help devise an individual Healthcare Plan or Management Plan with their school.
Individual healthcare plans provide clarity about what needs to be done, when and by whom to support a child’s medical needs.
An individual healthcare plan might be appropriate if a medical condition is one or more of the following things:
Based on medical evidence and consultation with parents and health care professionals, a decision is taken on whether a Healthcare Plan is appropriate. A good example of a condition that usually requires an individual Healthcare Plan is diabetes. Your school’s Head Teacher will make the final decision about whether an individual Healthcare Plan is suitable.
Once a decision has been made to devise a plan, everyone who was originally consulted will be invited to create the first draft. The final Healthcare Plan must be reviewed annually or earlier, if the child’s needs change.
An individual healthcare plan should include the following information:
If you are sending your child to nursery or school for the first time it is best to provide them with as much relevant information about your child’s heart condition as you can. ECHO has produced a simple template in partnership with Evelina London Children’s Hospital:
It is vital that this information is medically accurate, so please refer to information from the hospital or correspondence from your child’s Cardiologist (such as the latest copy of a clinic letter or ward discharge summary) for accurate details of his/her actual heart condition, treatment received and if appropriate, any medications prescribed. If you need help with compiling any of this information please contact the Outreach team.
1) Speak to your child’s teacher
If you have concerns about your child’s well-being in school or how their medical condition is affecting their education, you should talk directly to their teacher. This may be their class teacher or head of year.
At this meeting you might want to provide evidence which backs up your concern, for instance class work, test results or homework. You might also want to discuss any changes you’ve noticed in your child’s behaviour, such as increased anxiety or unusual or deteriorating behaviour, as well as any health conditions that have recently been diagnosed which could be impacting their experience at school.
During this meeting you and the teacher should try and work together to identify any concerns and then discuss whether any action needs to be taken. It’s important that you make a note of any recommendations and any plan that’s going to be implemented. You should also make a follow up appointment to see how these implementations are working out.
After this meeting it’s important to keep a track record of your child’s progress. If you still have concerns, you should meet with the teacher again or consider the next step.
2) Have a meeting with the SENDCo
Every school must have a Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-ordinator (SENDCo). This person must be a qualified teacher and may also have another job title within the school, such as Deputy Head Teacher.
The role of the SENDCo is to ensure that all special needs provision is met by the school. If you’re still concerned about your child’s progress after meeting with their teacher, you should arrange a meeting with the school SENDCo. This can be done in writing or by email and is a good opportunity for you to spell out your concerns.
At this point, it might be useful to request a copy of the school’s SEN policy and also your child’s school records, so that you have everything to hand. You can then prepare for the meeting and make sure you fully understand the school’s responsibilities to your child.
When you meet with the SENDCo you can discuss your concerns and find out whether the SENDCo thinks your child has special educational needs and what these might be. The SENDCo will be able to tell you what support is available at the school.
It’s at this point that additional SEN support could be discussed. You and the SENDCo should work together to put in place any targets or desired outcomes for your child. It’s important that you make a note of anything that’s agreed at this meeting too.
At this stage, if you feel it’s necessary, you can ask the school to arrange assessments by outside specialists such as Speech and Language Therapists or Educational Psychologists.
As discussed above, any support work provided through additional SEN support should be reviewed regularly to ensure that targets are being met by your child and that they are receiving the necessary support. If this isn’t the case, you may wish to take the next step.
3) Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment
If your child isn’t meeting the targets or outcomes set through additional SEN support then it may be necessary to apply for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment from the Local education authority. You or the school can do this by contacting the local authority. You should set out what your child’s special educational needs are, the specific difficulties they have, the current support they receive and the evidence of additional support needed. The local authority will assess your child if they have, or may have, special educational needs and determine whether special provisions are necessary.
The purpose of the assessment is to find out whether your child’s specific special educational needs require additional provision – and therefore additional support – through an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
If an Education, Health and Care Plan is issued, it will set out the additional support your child will receive for education, social care and health care, as well as the budget for this. It is a legal document and should be reviewed each year. If necessary, this support will continue for your child until their 25th birthday.
The above Education, Health and Care Plans and the provision given through Additional Special Educational Needs Support came into force through Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and has been in place since September 1st 2014. Before then, many children received support through different mechanisms.
Some children may have been getting support through School Action or School Action Plus. These support arrangements have now been replaced with Additional SEN Support.
If your child was receiving support through School Action or School Action Plus – so any time before September 1st 2014 – they should automatically be moved on to Additional SEN Support. If you have any questions or queries about this, ask your child’s SENCO for clarification.
If your child currently receives support through a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SSEN, often referred to as a statement or being statemented) then this will remain legally binding and your child’s support should not be affected.
From September 1st 2014 it was no longer possible to apply for a Statement of Special Educational Needs.
Education, Health and Care Plans will replace SSENs in the long run. In the meantime, any child already statemented will remain so.
The government intends for all children with SSENs to have transitioned to EHCPs by April 1st 2018. This transition will take place through a transfer review which will replace the annual review in the year of transition.
Local Education Authorities should seek to transfer those already on SSENs to EHCPs at key transition points in their education, for example:
If the person receiving support is a young person i.e. over 16, and they currently receive SEN support through a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA), they will also at some stage move across to an EHCP, unless the LDA comes to an end before the date of transition. The transition phase for those on LDAs will last until September 1st 2016.
Until a young person has transferred to an Education, Health and Care Plan they should continue to receive support through their Learning Difficulty Assessment.