I’m a teacher or school representative“I never realised that my student’s learning challenges may be related to their epilepsy.”
Teachers may be surprised to learn that a child’s lack of concentration or attention in class may, in fact, be related to their epilepsy and the effects of seizures and medication. In addition to striving to achieve the best learning outcomes for all students, schools have a duty of care to provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.
The Epilepsy Smart Schools program has been developed to assist schools to meet the requirements of government policy in each state.
In addition to your school having current Epilepsy Management Plans or, where required, Emergency Medication Management Plans, teachers need to complete the following epilepsy-specific training:
- An Introduction to Understanding and Managing Epilepsy – this 1-hour module can be delivered on line or face-to-face (each teacher will receive a certificate and may be able to claim this towards CPD)
- If your student has an emergency medication management plan, you will also need to complete Administration of Emergency Medication Parts 1 and 2 (each teacher will receive a certificate and may be able to claim this towards CPD).
Ensure your students have a management plan
The first thing you do is ask your colleagues, do we have Epilepsy Management Plans (EMPs) and/or Emergency Medication Management Plans (EMMPs) for all of our students who have epilepsy? It’s important to have up-to-date records.
As a teacher or school representative, you do not fill out the EMP. But you need to be aware of what it is and how to read it. The parent and child complete the EMP and, if required, EMMP, in consultation with their doctor. In some cases, a parent may not be aware their child needs a plan and you can provide them with the templates to assist them.
Training and classroom resources
In most cases, there are three key training courses you need to complete. The first two courses can be done online or face-to-face and the third must be completed face-to-face or in a virtual classroom.
The objectives of the training are to:
- ensure you understand epilepsy, the types of seizures and how to read an Epilepsy Management Plan (EMP)
- understand the types of medication used to treat a seizure and the Emergency Medication Management Plan (EMMP)
- be confident you can apply medication to a student, specific to their EMMP.
Begin this step by identifying which staff have a duty of care. Enrol those staff in the course – An Introduction to Understanding and Managing Epilepsy.
Identify which students have EMMPs and which teachers must be trained in the application of emergency medication. Decide if you want to complete Part 1 online and Part 2 through an interactive webinar, or both parts face-to-face. Enrol the relevant staff into these courses.
As a teacher or school representative, you should recognise that some students may need additional:
- individualised support around learning, especially regarding memory, attention, thinking skills or behaviour
- special consideration during exams and tests (most commonly additional reading time and additional breaks)
- social support.
Parents/carers should be consulted if learning or social issues arise and recognise that either the parent or teacher can initiate a learning conversation.
When Individual Learning Plans and Student Support Groups are initiated, parents/guardians should be actively engaged in these meetings.
An Epilepsy Smart School understands that all students, not just those with epilepsy, face risks in the classroom, in the yard and on camps/excursions. For students with epilepsy, risk should be balanced between what’s important to and for the child.
Students with epilepsy can generally participate fully in school life, including camps, excursions and special events. However, the student’s Epilepsy Management Plan (EMP) may highlight some additional supports that could be needed for certain activities. Schools may need to work with the student’s parents to develop a Risk Management Plan for these activities.
Because the diagnosis of epilepsy can be complex and evolving, communication between schools and families is important to inform diagnosis and treatment as well as to ensure that the student’s needs are identified and met.
The Inclusive schools document provides a detailed overview of a school’s responsibilities for students with epilepsy.
There are different actions your school can take to raise awareness about epilepsy. Holding a Make March Purple or Purple Day event is a great way to do this. In fact, you can hold an event on any day of the year.
Promoting awareness of epilepsy helps reduce stigma and ensure students who have epilepsy do not feel alone.
There are other activities a school can undertake other than a Make March Purple event that will achieve the same results. As a teacher, you can raise this with the school, be seen as a champion for students with epilepsy and help students with epilepsy never feel alone.