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Children and young people can experience a wide range of sensory, physical and/or medical needs, resulting from congenital conditions, illness or injury.  The majority of these needs can be met within the school’s resources with reasonable short or long term adjustments.  There are many different types of sensory, physical and/or medical needs so it is important for schools to have a understanding of how the child/young person’s needs impacts on their learning and emotional well-being. 

Examples of these physical and sensory needs include chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy, ME, MS, cancer and asthma; chromosome, birth and genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy; degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy; hearing and visual impairment; life limiting conditions and many more.

As a result of these conditions, pupils may need, for example:

  • modifications to physical access and the physical environment;
  • modifications to curriculum access and curriculum content;
  • specialist equipment;
  • appropriately trained staff to focus on health care needs;
  • support with social and emotional needs.

If the pupil has needs requiring modification to curriculum content in addition to their main physical needs, then more information is available in other sections of this toolkit. 

It is acknowledged that all children/young people are individual and each child/young person needs to be considered on an separate case by case basis.  The emphasis, however, should be on encouraging independence as much as possible. 

Statutory guidance in this area is outlined in the DfE document Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions.  More information about specific conditions including advice about management and available support for families of children with medical needs can be accessed via the website Contact.


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