I am proposing an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will place a clear requirement on all types of state schools to make arrangements for supporting pupils at the school who have medical conditions. This will not apply to early years provision as there is already sufficient coverage of this issue in the statutory early years foundation stage. In meeting the new requirement, schools must have regard to statutory guidance. This amendment will be considered during the House of Lords Committee stage of the Children and Families Bill.
Throughout the passage of the Bill, there has been much debate about the needs of children with long-term medical conditions, such as diabetes and epilepsy. There is cross-party support to ensure that children and young people have their health needs met in schools. My Department has also met with various health organisations and charities and parents and children (with long-term medical conditions) to listen and discuss this issue. While a vast majority of schools take these issues seriously, it is clear some families have had poor experiences. This new duty, underpinned by statutory guidance, will help schools to ensure that they are taking reasonable action to support children with medical conditions, where necessary. It will also give parents of such children confidence that support should be in place while they are at school.
It is our intention to work with health organisations, parents and the school work force on the drafting of the statutory guidance (building on existing good practice) which will also be subject to a public consultation in the new year.
Through this amendment to the Children and Families Bill we believe we will achieve the following: better educational outcomes for children with long-term health conditions; greater reassurance to parents that their children will receive the support they deserve in the school setting; and clearer guidance on what we expect of our schools.