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1. ASC(S) wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon MSP and the then Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning, Fiona Hyslop MSP, in March 2009. We raised our concern that the provision of education to children in hospital was not equitable throughout Scotland. We described a case where a local authority was refusing to release funding for its local authority children to receive hospital education when they were treated at a dedicated children’s hospital outside the local authority area.

The response in April 2010 indicated that section 40 of the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc Act 2000 places education authorities under a duty in relation to pupils to attend a suitable educational establishment as a result of their prolonged ill health and that the authority must make special arrangements for the pupil to receive education elsewhere than at an educational establishment. It said that the duty is silent on the specific issue we raised and does not identify how the provision should be made. It advised us to contact the particular education authority to raise our concerns and establish how the duty is being carried out for pupils currently receiving treatment at that particular hospital.

We wrote to the local authority which advised that it did not automatically subscribe to the hospital teaching service but preferred to send its own teachers. (We understand that since then this authority has now agreed to subscribe to the hospital services and pay for hospital tuition). While we believe that most local authorities do subscribe to hospital teaching services we know of one authority who has recently opted out of the hospital teaching service and prefers to send its own teachers. This can be problematic (see section 5).

2. ASC(S) then submitted a Freedom of Information Request in June 2009 to all Directors of Education in Scotland, to express our concern regarding the provision of education for children and young people whilst they are sick in hospital, noting that the provision of education at hospitals which cares for children as inpatients is not equitable and that it depends on which local authority the child resides in as to whether they receive education whilst in the hospital. We said that our view is that this is not only contrary to the 2000 Act (s40) but contravenes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Articles 3 and 28 and also Article 7 of the European Association for Children in Hospital Charter, which NHS boards have been asked to refer to when reviewing their services for children and young people.

We asked what education provision is made for children and young people in their local authority who are unable to attend school due to ill-health, and in particular those who have to attend hospitals outside their local authority. 32 local authorities responded. Some answered in detail, others by sending copies of their policies. All authorities felt that they adhered to the 2000 Act.

Despite these responses we are aware that local authorities do not all implement the legislation equally for all children throughout Scotland. Some perform on some aspects but not on others.

3. In December 2009 we launched our Manifesto for the Scottish Government, Members of the Scottish Parliament and those responsible for the formulation of healthcare policy at the launch of our ‘EACH Child and Young Person’s Health Matters’ campaign at a reception at the Scottish Parliament hosted by Christine Grahame MSP. One of the Manifesto points calls for ‘Equity of access to education for all sick children and young people, regardless of their illness, age or where they live’. We circulated our Manifesto widely including to all MSPs and met with MSPs Mary Scanlon, Murdo Fraser, Jackie Baillie and Ross Finnie to discuss it. We also discussed with Ken Macintosh MSP the issue of inequitable access to education. We received the following support from MSPs:

Ken Macintosh MSP submitted parliamentary questions on issues of education (outlined at point 4 below).

Mary Scanlon MSP submitted questions on other aspects of our manifesto eg play in hospital, transition pathways for young people with long term conditions; oral health provision for children with additional support needs; provision in hospital for families of sick children;

(S3W-34708; S3W-34706; S3W-34705).

Jackie Baillie MSP and Ross Finnie MSP thanked us for bringing issues to their attention and noted that they would bear them in mind. Jackie Baillie advised us about various routes we could go down in relation to petitions and motions.

4. In June 2010 Ken Macintosh MSP submitted parliamentary questions on the issue of education. The question references were: S3W-34412; S3W-34413; S3W-34414;S3W-34415; S3W-34416; S3W-34464

We continue to be in contact with Ken Macintosh MSP who has submitted a motion to Parliament for support (S3M-7523)

That the Parliament welcomes the work of Action for Sick Children (Scotland) in raising awareness of the needs and rights of ill children and young people; calls on all children and young people's healthcare rights to be upheld in line with the European Association for Children in Hospital (EACH) Charter; recognises the need to empower and support young people to take responsibility for their own health and management of their chronic condition; shares the belief that every sick child or young person has the right of equal access to education whenever they are well enough to learn, regardless of where they live; expresses concern at the wide variation in educational support that is available to children in Scottish hospitals and asks Ministers to collect and collate information nationally, on where and when hospital teaching is provided, on how many days a child has to be off sick before a teacher starts helping them at home, and in light of this calls upon the Scottish Government to review the national guidance on absence due to ill health.

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