Statutory guidance

Education for children with health needs who cannot attend school

Statutory guidance for local authorities and departmental advice for others ensuring children with health needs receive education.


This is statutory guidance for local authorities.

It applies to:

  • mainstream schools
  • academies and free schools
  • independent schools
  • special schools
  • where a child is not on the roll of a school

Local authorities must follow this guidance when carrying out their duty to arrange suitable full-time education (or part-time when appropriate for the child’s needs) for children who are unable to attend a mainstream or special school because of their health. The guidance applies equally whether a child cannot attend school at all or can only attend intermittently.

This can be read as departmental advice by all those supporting the educational attainment of a child with health needs, including:

  • all types of schools
  • providers of alternative provision
  • parents
  • providers of health services

The guidance will be reviewed in September 2014.

The latest version, published May 2013, contains minor revisions to clearly set out the government’s intention that all children, regardless of their personal circumstance or education setting should receive a good education and the necessary support to attain it. The revisions are 2 new paragraphs: the 1st paragraph of the summary on page 3, and paragraph 5 on page 6.