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Schools Deny Migraine Children Help, UK

Lack of support hits education – charity

Many of Britain’s 800,000 schoolchildren who suffer from migraine are seeing their education damaged through poor support for their condition.

Pupils are denied access to medication amid a migraine attack, lack help to catch up on missed work when unable to join lessons, and face unfair disciplinary measures.

Sanctions include monitoring their absence and detention for the failure to meet homework deadlines, as well as exclusion from school trips and activities because of low attendance records.

This warning is signalled today by the health and medical research charity The , which is pressing members of parliament to ensure schools must give the assistance required by children with the condition.

It is receiving growing numbers of enquiries about information from parents concerned at their children’s education.

The charity belongs to the , which represents the needs of children with long-term and other for which they may require extra support at school.

The Health Conditions in Schools Alliance wants the government’s Children and Families bill, now under committee discussion in the House of Commons, to be strengthened to ensure that children with health conditions get the same school experience as their peers. 

Currently the bill does not include any rules or requirements for schools to look after children with a health condition, like migraine.

The Alliance is calling on MPs to amend the bill to ensure that schools have statutory responsibilities to support the health and well-being of children with medical needs.

According to The Migraine Trust, schools’ failure to help students with the condition affects their educational achievement, self-confidence, emotional development and the ability to maintain friendships.

But parents fear speaking out could hit their children even harder.

The charity says that with sufficient support and acknowledgement of the impact and severity of the condition, young sufferers’ education need not be impaired.

Near Liverpool, in St Helens, 14-year-old Megan Lunt required her school’s assistance.

She suffers from two migraine conditions, the familial hemiplegic type, which can bring temporary weakness on one side of her body, and Alice in Wonderland syndrome, causing visual disturbance.

Between lessons, Megan has seen a nurse, who visits her school once a week to offer independent support.

And the school has trained children who serve as counsellors to other pupils.

During Megan’s absence from school with migraine, teachers have sent extra books.

And when her form adopted The Migraine Trust as a charity to support, Megan baked food which raised money and awareness.

Her mother, Steph, 43, a company secretary, said: “Megan’s school has taken an active interest in her condition and by doing so has given her a positive message of support.”

Until a hospital provided effective treatment, Zoe Waite often suffered migraine lasting two to three weeks, now reduced to once a month for two or three days.

Her mother, Antonella, an invigilator and library assistant, faced a challenge to win support from Zoe’s school.

But, with the charity’s help, when sickness kept Zoe from school, teachers sent work to her north London home in Crouch End and prepared material before she returned.

Zoe, now 16, secured two A*, six A and four B passes at GCSE level and plans to resume sixth form studies in September.

Antonella, 48, said: “Some teachers were very helpful and understood Zoe’s qualities and potential.”

Hannah Verghese, advocacy and policy manager at The Migraine Trust, said: “Support for children with migraine at school is inconsistent. Many are being repeatedly failed by schools, who neither recognise the impact of the condition nor provide adequate help to limit the impact on their education. 

“Children are denied access to medication at the onset of an attack, lack assistance to catch up on work missed and are disciplined for missing homework deadlines and poor attendance, due to an attack. 

“As a member of the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance, we strongly urge the government to tackle this failure and impose statutory responsibilities on schools to support the health and wellbeing of children with medical needs.”


Source: Migraine Trust