Epilepsy and Education – Effectively managing a child with epilepsy at school

9th January 2018

Many parents are quite rightly concerned with how their child is looked after at school once they have been diagnosed with epilepsy. In most cases, children with epilepsy will need very little support if their epilepsy is under control with medicine. However, a growing issue is that many schools and places of education are underprepared should the need to care for someone with epilepsy arise.

What does the law say?

According to the Children and Families Act 2014 schools are required to put special measures in place for children who have a medical condition. It’s imperative that children with a medical condition, such as epilepsy, are afforded the same opportunities as all other children.

For a child with epilepsy this could mean a number of things:

  • Creating a plan to ensure that staff, teachers and even the other children have an understanding of epilepsy.
  • Training on the administration of epilepsy medication should the need arise.
  • Ensuring that emergency situations are understood and that everyone is aware of the appropriate actions to take.
  • Individual healthcare plans for each child who has epilepsy, this should be regularly updated.

Learning and behaviour

Epilepsy as a disorder is incredibly varied and can affect each child differently. The degree and type of epilepsy will likely correspond with how it affects their school life.

Many children who have epilepsy will lead very normal school lives, with very few problems with learning and behaviour. However, it is true that children with epilepsy are more likely to have problems, which can range from mild to severe. These children will likely need extra support from their school to ensure they don’t fall behind. All too often these kinds of learning difficulties through epilepsy go unsupported or completely unnoticed.

There are a number of ways epilepsy can affect a child’s learning capabilities or behaviour, including:

  • Triggers – If a child finds education particularly stressful this can be a trigger or cause for potential seizures.
  • Seizures – seizures themselves can have an effect on the way the brain functions and even impact on memory.
  • Medication – There are many different types of epilepsy medication, some of which will have side effects that may affect the way a child learns or behaves.
  • Absences from school – Epilepsy can result in a child being absent from school, some more often than others. This can obviously impact a child’s learning should they miss a lot of classes.

Other considerations

There are a variety of other things that need to be taken into account if you have a child with epilepsy. For example, transport to school may be an issue, which is something your local authority may be able to help with. Another consideration is exams, which can be stressful situations for all children, but could be particularly for a child with epilepsy, especially if stress is a trigger.

If your school has a student who has epilepsy and you’re looking for guidance in how to best care for them, National Epilepsy Training can help. From staff training, right through to care planning we can ensure you are well prepared to manage students with epilepsy effectively.

For more information, please feel free to call us on 01706 373075 or email admin@nationalepilepsytraining.co.uk.