10 June 2011
Sarah Teather, Minister for Children and Families, has said that: “It is for school governing bodies and local authorities, rather than central Government, to determine their own policies on supporting pupils with medical needs.”
The comment came on 7 June in a written answer to a question Ian Swales had put to the Minister of State for Education about supporting children with M.E.
Ian Swales: “To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require schools to support the health and well-being of children with (a) medical needs and (b) myalgic encephalomyelitis.”
Sarah Teather [holding answer 23 May 2011]: “There is already a legal duty on schools to promote the well-being of their pupils. Within that, it is for school governing bodies and local authorities, rather than central Government, to determine their own policies on supporting pupils with medical needs. Good schools and local authorities will work with parents and local health services so that the medical needs of children, such as those with myalgic encephalomyelitis, are met while they are at school.
“As we said in the Schools White Paper, ‘The importance of Teaching’, good schools have a vital role as promoters of health and well-being in the local community, and have always had good pastoral systems. They understand well the connections between pupils' physical and mental health and their educational achievement. We believe that the majority of the important work that schools do is not as a result of government prescription, and so the Department has no plans to change the existing arrangements or to bring forward new legislative proposals.
“This Department, together with the Department of Health, produced guidance for schools in 2005, entitled ‘Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years.’ This recommends, among other things, that there should be a clear policy in each school, an individual health care plan for any child with medical needs, and training for staff. The guidance can be found at:
“We encourage other organisations, such as employer and staff associations and charities such as the ME Association, to play their part in supporting schools and parents and in sharing good practice.”
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The Minister's response was echoed in the House of Lords following a question posed by the Countess of Mar, in a written reply by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Hill of Oareford.