Asthma UK community forum

Extra help at school due to sickness from asthma


I wondered if anyone else has been in this situation and has any advice.

My 12 year old son has been asthmatic since he was about 2. He used to be reasonably well controlled (with infrequent hospital and ITU admissions but basically at school most of the time). However since the end of year 6 he has really struggled and his attendance at school is appalling. At the moment I think it stands at about 53% for the school year so far. Consequently his work is suffering. This isn't helped by the fact that he struggles with dyslexia as well...but that's a whole other issue.

I've approached the school on several occasions (note I approached them, not them approaching us re his absence!) especially when his reports have come home stating that they are worried about his attendance. I basically been told to contact his subject tutors if he's off to get work from them to do at home and that he should 'catch up' when he's back. Ummm not the most sensible suggestion for a 12 year old who's off school for weeks at a time.

Unfortunately I can't teach him myself as I work during the day and then have his 3 younger siblings to deal with as well after school and his dyslexia does make it hard for him to simply pick up a piece of work and go on with it.

I finally referred him myself the schools welfare officer. She admitted that she had 'heard of him' - but had never contacted us! I've asked for extra support. As there are days when he's suffering from asthma but could work (just couldn't cope with the hustle and bustle of school and getting there) the ideal would be a tutor who comes to us. Apparently this isn't possible unless the child is 'booked' to be sick for a long stretch. Their suggestion is online help. However his case has to be put before a board and apparently they review each case individually and there's no guarantee that he'll get any help - despite his low attendance.

I'm waiting to hear the results of the 'board' next week....but in the meantime I thought I'd prepare myself in case they say no. Has anyone else had this situation? Any suggestions of what I can do and what rights he has?

I feel like he's falling into a black hole at school where he's just being ignored because his absence is due to a genuine and identifiable illness. If he was just bunking off I'm sure we'd have had the welfare officer banging on our door by now.


5 Replies


I dont have direct experience with regards to schools and asthma but I know when my son started secondary school he was off for a long time after an op, the school contacted me and the attendance officer came to meet with us at home, he obtained work that he thought necessary for him to catch up on from subject teachers and bought it to us at home weekly and then took back the completed stuff, they were really helpful so it can be done I guess it just varies from school to school. Because of that he managed to catch up and now in year 8 he's fully back on track.

All I will say is dont give up, there is always a solution just sometimes it takes a while to find it.

Good luck



I know exactly where you are coming from. My 13 yr old son was diagnosed with asthma as a baby and school attendance has always been poor. The primary school were okish up to a point although his yr 6 teacher was beginning to lose patience. Our problems really started when he went to Secondary School and his health deteriorated significantly. I contacted the school lots of times asking he receive catch up help when he got back to school, but like you I was told to ask for work to get sent home and ask teachers what he'd missed himself. This didnt work at all.

Like you I contacted the welfare officer and I was advised to ask his Consultant for a letter advising he was suitable for home tuition. The Consultant refused, saying home tuition was only for children who were really really ill (eg cancer) and my son should be in school. So no support there.

Educational welfare got involved officially when his attendance dropped to 60% but they werent really any help. The officer could see the ill health was genuine and suggested the school did more to support him. I have had no contact from them since (one and half yrs ago)!

So that is the background - now to be more positive. I found my own local maths tutor and she went through his maths textbook with him over about a year. I also found a tutor for French which again pulled him up a bit. I found both by asking around, but I also contacted a local tuition service and could have used their tutors (more expensive). The extra help boosted his confidence.

My husband and I also had a meeting with the headteacher last Sept - we asked how the school would help him catch up when he was off. They nominated a 'buddy' - a boy in my son's class who would let my son know what he'd missed. When my son is off sick (usually a 3-4 days a month) we look at his timetable and check what lessons he's missed. He then asks his 'buddy' for help in those subjects. That's the theory anyway - doesnt always work but better than nothing! My son is also more confident now about approaching teachers and asking for help.

After 2 and half yrs of battling away, we were very surprised when my son came home the other day and said he'd been told he was getting some extra help in English because his marks were so low! Yippee. Some extra funding had been made available. So maybe my banging away at the school all this time has had some effect.

Sorry for the long post. Feel free to PM me as I can tell you more.

Edit. Forgot to mention I also purchased Key Stage 3 revision guides for him - CGP publications are good.


Thanks for the replies. Sounds like we're not the only ones going through this. We have also considered private tutors - but it does annoy me that we have to pay when the school has a duty to make sure that our son is educated. I'll keep my fingers crossed that something comes out of next week's meeting - otherwise we will have to go down that route.



Yes we shouldnt have to pay for private tuition, it's crazy. Presumably the school should be addressing your son's dyslexia issues as well???

You may find that your school starts taking a bit more interest once GCSEs approach. I was told by a friend teacher that a lot of what they do in the first year of secondary school is repeated later on. So they are not 'too' bothered about poor attendance early on in school life, it becomes more crucial later on.

If I were you I would make an appointment to see either the head of year or Headteacher and explain your concerns and ask them what the way forward is! You can say that you are very worried about his academic progress and ask how the school can best support him. What do they do about other children who are off sick a lot - is there a procedure? My husband also emphasised the very serious nature of difficult asthma.

Ask your GP/consultant for a letter explaining the health problems etc and give it to the school. I now send the school photocopies of all medical reports to put on file. That way they know it is all genuine and they arent so worried they will get it in the neck from Educational Welfare!!

Edit. Sorry, I keep thinking of more things. You asked if your son has any 'rights'. I researched the legal aspect, even spoke to different people at LEA, but I didnt get anywhere! I was told I needed the support of consultant to get home tuition and as I said, that was not forthcoming. You may have a better case/more sympathetic consultant, so it may be worth exploring.


Yeap I completely understand but in my case my son's school are also refusing to do the dyslexia test as they are already doing all the extra support available in primary school. I have resorted to getting taxi's to and from school just to get him into school. Thankfully though my son doesn't have to move about the school for his subjects but we will be addressing this issue before we know it. He is in year 4 at the moment so only at primary school for another 2 acedemic years then has the huge change which is already scaring me to death.

I hope the meetiong goes well for you and I hope you get the best result possible. They giove him the extra support and even making schooling easier by placing him in one room and giving him his leassons that way


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