Absence For Medical Reasons

All children with SMA will have medical appointments they need to attend. For many they will be frequent. Many will also have planned and unplanned hospital admissions. It’s important you keep your child’s school as up to date as possible about any of these. In some parts of the UK a computerised system sends out warning letters if a child has had too many absences. If these are due to illness parents can speak to the school and ask them to see if these letters can be stopped.

Short Absences

Your child's school should keep in touch and send work home if your child is off for more than a day or two. Some schools have activities that can be downloaded from their website. Others may provide some outreach support, for instance if your child has a support assistant, they may come and do some work with them at home. While your child is off, the school should help them keep in touch with classmates, for example by writing, over the phone, through photos or class newsletters, over skype etc.

Hospital School

If your child is admitted to hospital they’ll attend the hospital's school, where there will be lessons on the ward or in a separate schoolroom. The hospital education team should liaise with your child's school. 

Absence at Home for Health Reasons for More Than 15 School Days

The local authority must provide alternative education - either full time or as much as your child can manage. It can be provided in a number of different ways, including:

  • A home tutor
  • Online learning
  • A small unit for children with medical needs

Before arranging alternative education, the local authority may need a referral from your child's school or a letter from a consultant stating that your child is not well enough to attend school. The teams coordinating alternative education have different names in different areas. Common names are 'home and hospital tuition' or 'EOTAS' (Education Otherwise Than At School).

If your child has an EHC Plan, it can include what will be set up when your child is absent from school. 

Going Back to School

It may be possible for your child to have a gradual return, for instance through part-time attendance for a limited time. You can discuss what will work best with the school and the services that have been providing education and care for your child. You may also want to agree with school what information is shared with other children – depending on what your child and you prefer.

Page last reviewed / updated: March 2021
Next review due: March 2022