School, education and epilepsy
A guide for parents on managing seizures at school and special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
Epilepsy is a very individual condition so how it affects a child’s education can vary. Knowing as much as possible about your child’s epilepsy can help you to make decisions with them about their education.
Seizures at school
Telling staff at school about your child’s epilepsy means they will know what to do if a seizure happens. It is important that the staff are aware of what is best for your child, so they don’t assume that epilepsy affects everyone in the same way.
For some children, having epilepsy will not affect their ability to learn or achieve academically but others may need extra time or support in class. For example, a child who has absence seizures may miss key points during lessons. Having a chance to catch up on what they have missed in class can be helpful if seizures happen frequently. Sometimes a child may need time to recover after a seizure, and may need to sleep. Seizures at night can disrupt sleep patterns and affect memory for some time afterwards. Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) can also cause side effects that include tiredness and problems with memory or concentration.
If you feel that your child needs support at school you can talk to their teachers. Sometimes a teacher may approach you if they notice areas where your child needs extra help.
Special educational needs or disabilities
A child has special educational needs (SEN) if they have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than other children of the same age. Every school has a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) who can look at your child’s needs with you and with people who work with your child, such as their teacher. The school will usually provide SEN support.
If your child needs extra help, you, or your child’s school, can ask the local authority for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment. The assessment incluydes talking to you and your child about what support you think your child needs. It will also include asking for information and views from people who work with your child, such as teachers, doctors or educational psychologists. This may produce an EHC plan, a document that brings together your child’s education, health and social care needs. Your child must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan.
The Information Advice and Support Services Network (IASSN) is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and gives information, advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs. They also provide information on how individual needs are identified by schools and the local authority.
More information on education and special needs from GOV.UK
Educational support and other organisations
Advisory Centre for Education – an independent advice centre for parents.
Contact a Family – support and information for families of children with disabilities or medical conditions.
Equality and Human Rights Commission – an independent body, which aims to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities and promote equality. Has information on education and the Equality Act.
IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice) – free independent educational advice for parents of children in England and Wales.
Staying Positive Programme – free courses for young people with any long-term health condition.
Source Epilepsy Society
Epilepsy Society is grateful to Christine Bennett, Senior Children’s Epilepsy Nurse, for her guidance on this information.
Information updated: May 2021