Support at School and University

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 12:00

Young people with epilepsy are protected from disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Schools, colleges and universities are required to take steps (called “reasonable adjustments”) to make sure young people with epilepsy aren’t at a substantial disadvantage compared to other young people. Schools and colleges also have safeguarding responsibilities for children and young people who are under the age of 18. This includes support for young people with medical conditions whilst you’re at school/college to make sure you’re safe and that your health isn’t made worse

Support at School and College

All schools and colleges should have a document called a policy showing how they support pupils with medical conditions to keep them safe and include them in all school activities (including things like sports and residential visits). In state schools in England this is a legal requirement. It’s best practice for schools/colleges to publish their medical conditions policy on their website.

Young people with epilepsy shouldn’t be penalised for absences related to their condition and any incentives/rewards for you to improve attendance should be achievable.

All young people with epilepsy should have an individual healthcare plan (IHP) which explains all about your epilepsy and what school/college staff need to do to support you, including:

  • Seizure descriptions
  • What to do in an emergency
  • How your epilepsy might affect your learning

Having an IHP helps your teachers know what support you might need without having to explain your epilepsy again and again.

You can ask your school/college who you can talk to about making sure you have an IHP that’s got all the information you need.

Here is a template IHP that you and your school/college can use. 

Your epilepsy might change from year to year or day to day, so tell your teachers if there’s anything you’d like them to know about how it’s affecting you.

Make sure your IHP is kept up to date at least every year. You can ask for it to be updated any time you need.

Share our Online Guide with your School or College

Support at University

Tell your university about your epilepsy, and ideally on your application, so that they can start getting things in place as early as possible.

Every university should have a disability officer or student support officer who can help you get the right support in place.

Your university will probably want to discuss your needs and then you'll be advised about what support is available. This will either be provided by your university, or you’ll need to apply for support through Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

If you think you might need additional support for day-to-day living needs, you can also contact the local social services for an assessment.

You’ll probably find lots of different options available, so you’ll need to work out what suits you. Start the process as early as you can and take your time. It’s important to get the right support in place.

Young Epilepsy’s Epilepsy Friendly Mark recognises higher education settings who are doing more to improve their understanding of epilepsy and provide better support to their students

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) covers any extra costs related to education as a result of your epilepsy.

You can apply for DSAs at almost any point, but try to do so before you arrive, as support will be put in place much more quickly.

DSAs don’t cover everyday student costs, such as course fees or accommodation. Nor do they cover any support that doesn’t relate directly to your education.

Universities themselves also have a legal obligation to make "reasonable adjustments" so that you are not put at a disadvantage because of your epilepsy. This means that universities are expected to offer lower cost support that may not be covered by DSAs, including the costs of specialist accommodation provided by the university or their agents.

Find out more about DSAs

 

What you receive will be dependent on your assessment and what recommendations are made for your support. Here are some examples of what could be provided:

Specialist equipment

For example:

A dictaphone: this may be helpful if your medication makes you tired or makes it harder to concentrate during lectures. It might also be useful if you have absence seizures during classes.

Dictation software: this may help you if you have photosensitive epilepsy. It allows you to make notes or write essays without having to look at a computer screen for extended periods of time.

A laptop and printer: having to spend late nights in the library can cause stress, which is a common trigger for seizures. This option allows you to work at your own pace and in your own environment.

Computer or laptop with an anti-glare screen: these may be useful if you have photosensitive epilepsy.

Software to adjust the lighting and colour on a screen: some people with photosensitive epilepsy find that their seizures can be triggered by large contrast differences. Being able to reduce this may be helpful for some people.

 

Non-medical helpers

For example:

A note-taker: someone who can take notes for you if you find it difficult to concentrate or have absence seizures. They can also take notes when you unable to attend lectures for medical reasons.

A mentor or tutor: the role of this person can vary from providing help with effective studying methods to emotional support as well.

Exams

Young people with epilepsy may be entitled to extra support for exams. This might be due to the seizures themselves or the impact that epilepsy has on how you learn (e.g. you might struggle with memory issues or getting through tasks quickly).

Schools/colleges/unis and awarding bodies for qualifications are required to make reasonable adjustments to make sure young people with epilepsy are not put at a disadvantage in comparison to their peers.

Access arrangements are pre-examination adjustments that are made to ensure a young person is not put at a substantial disadvantage due to a disability, special educational need or temporary injury.

The type of arrangements needed will depend on the specifics of your epilepsy and the type of exam or assessment. Arrangements might include:

  • Additional time and/or break periods
  • Rescheduling an exam to avoid times of day when a seizure is most likely to occur
  • Someone to note if and when a seizure occurs (to take account of time lost)
  • Someone to provide support during practical assessments

You should talk to your school/college/uni about any potential need for access arrangements as soon as possible, as applications may need to be made months in advance of the exam or assessment.

Special consideration is a post-examination adjustment to a candidate’s mark or grade to reflect temporarily illness, injury or other indisposition at the time of the exam or assessment. If your epilepsy affects you during the exam or assessment, you can make an application for special consideration. This could include if you had a seizure during an exam or were recovering from a seizure prior to the exam.

Find out more about exam arrangements:

School/college: https://www.jcq.org.uk/exams-office/access-arrangements-and-special-consideration/

University: Ask your university for information on their access arrangements for exams

University Support