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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that affects a child’s movement and muscle control and is caused by an injury to the brain before, during or after childbirth.

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  • Around 1 in every 400 children in the UK is affected by cerebral palsy.
  • Children with cerebral palsy have difficulties controlling their muscles and movements and although not a progressive condition these difficulties remain with the child for life.
  • A range of treatments including physiotherapy and occupational therapy can help develop the child’s control over their movements and increase their independence and self-esteem.
  • Every child with cerebral palsy is different and their difficulties can range from very mild motor difficulties to a severe disability requiring a range of supportive equipment for them to access their environment.

Associated challenges

  • Learning difficulties which can be mild, moderate or severe
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Epilepsy
  • Sensory impairment including visual difficulties and hearing difficulties
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Sleep problems

Supporting students with cerebral palsy

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  • For some children and young people an EHC plan will be drawn up with the advice of a multidisciplinary team. It will outline what is needed to maximise learning within the school environment.
  • Regular hospital appointments and possibly admissions mean it’s important to liaise with the hospital school teachers promptly to support continuity of education.


  • Some children and young people may have difficulties with speaking, a voice output communication aid (VOCA) may be used.
  • Access to a speech and language therapist is important to help with communication needs and in some cases an eating plan may be required.
  • Don’t let physical limitations stop the child or young person communicating what they know and understand!

Motor skills

  • Gross motor skills may be impaired, an assessment of the classroom and wider school area should be undertaken so that adjustments can be made. An occupational therapist may be available to help with this.
  • Help with fine motor skills may be required. An assessment of needs for writing, looking at the board and using equipment may be required. Do this sensitively and plan so that the child or young person can access the curriculum alongside their peers.

More information

Information on cerebral palsy from Scope.

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)