Inclusion in Education research
Young Epilepsy Researches Inclusion in Education:
What Helps? What Hinders?
Young Epilepsy has recently conducted a study that looked into the experiences of children and young people with epilepsy in education. Based on first-hand accounts from children with epilepsy and proxy reports from parents, the report examines whether children with epilepsy are fully included in all aspects of school life including all areas of learning and the curriculum, social engagement and extra-curricular activities. The aim of this research is to achieve a better understanding of ‘what helps’ and ‘what hinders’ children with epilepsy to be included in education.
The key findings of the report include that:
- Misconceptions concerning epilepsy can act as a significant barrier to inclusion in education for children with epilepsy.
- One of the primary barriers to inclusion is a failure by some education professionals and others to recognise the variety of ways epilepsy can present.
- Another significant barrier identified was a failure to appreciate the connection between epilepsy and additional learning needs for some children, leading to potential misinterpretation of possible epilepsy related behaviours.
- Access to high quality medical treatment is a significant facilitating factor for inclusion in education for children with epilepsy; consultants, epilepsy nurse specialists and other medical professionals have been shown to play an important role for these children.
- Key individuals within schools such as Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCos), Inclusion Officers and school nurses often play a significant role in ensuring that children with epilepsy are able to be fully included in education and school life.
- Parents play a key role as advocates for children with epilepsy by ensuring that they receive the medical care they require and have the opportunities they need to be fully included in education.
The key recommendations for those educating and caring for children with epilepsy is to:
- Ensure all education professionals have access to specialist training that recognises not only the medical characteristics of epilepsy, but also the learning and psychosocial difficulties that may arise. Recognising these features is key to ensuring that children with epilepsy are fully included in education and school.
- Provide children with access to a multidisciplinary approach. It is vital that the healthcare and educational professionals supporting children with epilepsy communicate effectively. It is also important that treatment of epilepsy is not limited to seizure control but that healthcare professionals also take into account the known association between childhood epilepsy and anxiety and depression.
- Ensure that wider policy and practice reflects epilepsy not only as a medical condition, but also addresses the associated educational and psychosocial issues faced by children.
This important research has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.