Aims There are increasing numbers of children with life limiting (LL) or life threatening (LT) conditions in mainstream schools. Previous research shows that the needs of these children are not being well met. The symptoms of their condition and its treatment can interfere with a child’s whole school experience including their learning, their self-esteem and their relationships. Many children and parents feel under supported by schools. In England, the Children and Families Bill (2013) aims to bring about better integration of health care, social care and education for these children. The Teaching for Life project is a collaborative project between the disciplines of Education and Health and Social Care which aimed to explore the needs of teachers in relation to working with children with life limiting or life threatening conditions.
Methods Comprised of an on-line questionnaire to 550 teachers undertaking the Special Education Needs training and teaching staff in mainstream schools who had experience of working with children with life limiting or life threatening conditions. Post the questionnaire a series of focus groups were also undertaken with groups of teachers who had experience and those without.
Results The most common LL/LT condition experienced by teachers was cancer followed by cerebral palsy, Duchennes muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis. There was a wide variance across schools about who was responsible for keeping medical and care needs updated. Half of the teachers involved in the study had delivered medical care for a child which had led to high levels of anxiety from teachers re meeting the child’s medical needs. There is a need for good multi-disciplinary working around the child.
Conclusions Teachers wanted more information, guidance and emotional support with a whole school approach on emotional health and wellbeing. There is a definitive need for true collaboration and inter professional working to be more effective to meet the needs of teachers and children with LL/LT conditions in main stream schools.
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