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How can schools help support a pupil with M.E.?

This page offers information for parents, teachers and other education professionals.

There a number of ways that schools can make reasonable adjustments to support a child with M.E. If you feel you need further information and support, please get in touch.

  • The Health Conditions in School Alliance has a free downloadable factsheet on school attendance that you may find helpful.
  • Schools must have an Individual Healthcare Plan (IHCP) in place for every child with a long-term health condition. For young people up to age 25, an Education, Health and Care Plan (ECHP) can be put in place. We have a free downloadable factsheet on support plans that you may find helpful.
  • A number of organisations have collaborated to design Supporting children with medical needs, a flowchart that aims to help schools identify the steps they should take to make sure that children with medical needs receive the right support. Parents may find it helpful to share this with their child's school.

It's also useful to know that, according to the NICE guideline for M.E., healthcare professionals should:

  • follow the guidance from the Department for Education on education for children and young people with medical needs, or equivalent statutory guidance
  • work closely with social care and education services to ensure a common understanding of the goals of the person with M.E. The use of a flexible approach should be discussed, including home tuition and use of equipment that allows a gradual reintegration into education
  • not use the amount of time which a young person attends education as the sole marker of progress of M.E. Additionally, education should not be the only activity a person undertakes. There should be a balance between time spent attending school or college and doing homework, and time spent on home and social activities.

Reduced school hours and learning at home

Many young people with M.E. attend school on a part-time basis as appropriate to their needs, eg. late starts, half days and attending only specific lessons. Managing continuity of lessons can be challenging; catching up with missed lessons, getting and completing homework by due date and lack of social time with friends are all challenges that your child may face.

Having regular meetings between parents, teachers and the school to address these needs as they arise is always beneficial for a young person with M.E.

Local authorities (LA) have a home teaching service (they have many names, such as Home and Hospital Teaching, or Community Teaching) to support pupils who cannot attend their mainstream school due to medical needs. For some local authorities you can find details under the education section of your local authority website, however, not all LA’s provide this information or it can be out of date. If this is the case, please contact us.

It is the responsibility of the school to make a referral, supported by medical evidence to show why a child is unable to attend mainstream school. Most home teaching services will provide up to five hours teaching a week (ideally one hour per day), although this can be more or less depending on a child's condition some start with a 5 minute session and slowly increase as the young person improves. Home teachers should liaise closely with a child's school for work and may focus on the core subjects of maths, English and science because of the limited time available. It is not essential to make core subjects a priority particularly where a child is severely affected or has major cognitive dysfunction (brain fog), art for example may be more appropriate in these cases. This would be detailed and agreed in the IHCP.

When and only if a young person with M.E. is ready to return to school, the home teaching staff should then move the teaching from home to school, with a very carefully planned reintegration back into school. This can be perhaps visiting for breaks and then as appropriate adding one or part of a lesson, perhaps starting with one in the library with a friend.

We have a free downloadable factsheet on exam accessibility and special considerations that you may find helpful.