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Published: 13 June 2013

Call to train teachers to cope with epilepsy

All schools should have care plans for children with conditions such as epilepsy, Tory MP Graham Stuart told the Government. He said it was shameful that some schools do not provide training to teachers on how to care for children with long-term illnesses.

Graham Stuart is  Conservative chairman of the commons education select committee. He said the Government needed to introduce legislation to ensure all schools had care plans for children with conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy, reports Press Association.

He said it was not good enough for schools not to know what to do in an emergency and to send pupils to hospital.

Health care plans for long-term conditions

He attacked the Government as the education minister Edward Timpson rejected an amendment to the Children and Families Bill, tabled by the Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders, which would have forced all schools to draw up specific health care plans for pupils with long-term conditions.

Teachers would also have been given training and parents kept informed about what the school would do in case they fell ill, the amendment stated.

But Mr Timspon rejected the plans, telling the House of Commons as the Bill reached report stage that guidance had been issued to the headteachers about how they should look after vulnerable pupils.

He said while some schools were not doing enough to support the estimated 30,000 children with long-term illnesses, many had already implemented the Government's guidance.

High quality eductiaon for all

Mr Timpson said: 'It's right that every child with a health need is entitled to a high quality education.

'Their needs must be identified and addressed promptly so that they can achieve their full potential. Imposing, however, further statutory duties on schools to ensure that, is not necessarily the answer.'

However, Mr Stuart, who chairs the commons committee, said he was unhappy the Government was not legislating.

Pupils admitted to hospital

He told Mr Timpson: 'I do find your answer inadequate. It is shameful that we have gone so many years with successive governments with a minority of children, a significant minority, simply not having their needs met in school.

'And when they have a condition that flares up they simply get sent off to hospital or their parents get called and the school could have, if they had trained someone up, been able to meet that need.

'It's not good enough. You are a minister. You have done so much in this Bill and this is another area which could be part of an historic positive settlement coming out of this legislation and it would be a shame if it is missed.'

Guidance for schools

Mr Timpson said he would not rule out introducing the reforms at a later stage.

He said: 'You are quite right to continue to challenge us on this and schools themselves and the question that has to get back to schools is why it is that some are able to manage medicines effectively and others aren't.

'That suggests to me that this is not necessarily due to the legislative framework in which they are working in. It's down to the differentiations in the practice and the commitment they are giving in the schools.

'As I have already indicated, I don't stop the discussion at this juncture and I am sure there will other opportunities to discuss a bit more what we can do in the future.

'The re-issuing of the guidance is an important step because it will provide very clear guidance to schools to the way they should be approaching this important issue and that is something that we will be following up through Government channels and also through the role that Ofsted does as the inspector.'

Epilepsy awareness for children

Earlier, Mr Sanders (Torbay) said children would benefit if they were aware of illnesses of their classmates, such as epilepsy or diabetes.

He said: 'The statistics seem to indicate that while there are provisions in previous legislation that are supposed to work, they are not working for large numbers of children with medical conditions.

'I think we have responsibility at a national level to ensure that schools do this and that parents have scope to force a reappraisal of the situation if it is found wanting.'

Mr Sanders did not push his amendment to a vote.