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The Education Support for Medical Absence (ESMA) team supports schools that have children who are unable to attend school for medical reasons.

We help pupils continue their education around their needs and work towards getting them back into school life as soon as possible.

Who do we support?

We support pupils who are of compulsory school age:

  • who have had, or are expecting to have, significant time off from school due to the impact of a physical or mental health condition.

  • to get back into school life after a long time off due to medical reasons.

  • who are moving to a new school and have physical or mental health issues impacting on their attendance.

  • who have been in hospital for a long stay i.e. 5 days or more, or are in hospital regularly.

  • who are pregnant from 29 weeks, or young mothers whose physical or mental health issues are affecting attendance.

What can I expect from the service?

We work with the school to support the young person to return to an agreed school timetable. We:

  • provide advice and training so schools can develop skills and strategies to  young people manage their physical or mental health needs

  • work with schools and health professionals to advise on a support plan for the young person

  • provide advice on school policy about pupils with physical or mental health needs

  • provide advice to the school so a young person’s timetable can be amended

  • suggest reasonable adjustments in schools

  • provide teaching support (where needed) as part of a programme to help the young person back into school life

  • help pupils to take part in education and return to school wherever possible via a joint package of support with school and parents.

How to refer

Referrals must be done by your child or young person's school. Referrals are completed using a service request form (PDF 202kb) Opening a new window and an additional form for schools (DOC 301kb) Opening a new window which gives extra detail on current school support.

All referrals must have parental consent, so you will be asked to sign the referral.

What needs to be included in the referral?

Referrals should also provide detailed information about the pupil, including:

  • confirmation that the pupil is medically unable to attend school

  • the reason for the absence (physical or mental health condition)

  • what the length of the absence from school is likely to be

  • current support plan on offer from the school

  • supporting medical advice from the health professional who treats your child. This must show the impact the physical or mental health condition has on your child's attendance.

What happens after the referral is submitted?

We discuss referrals on a weekly basis, and inform the school of our decision within 5 days.

Depending on the medical advice we've been given, we will either provide:

  • an advice and guidance package to the school and young person.

  • direct teaching to the young person, working with the school.

Independent organisations who can help

We work with many support agencies in Hertfordshire, including the Wellbeing Team, School Health, Families First, specialist nurses and the YC Hertfordshire 'Support You' Programme.

If you would like to seek some support yourself, there are some organisations you can try.

Provide impartial and confidential information, advice and support to parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Free and independent legally based information, advice and support to help get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

A website which offers support for both young people and parents on issues of mental health in Hertfordshire.

A 7 week programme for young people aged 13 - 17 who are beginning to show very early signs of distress due to anxiety or low mood who are not receiving support elsewhere.

0300 123 4043 - Hertfordshire County Council customer call centre

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Like many other websites, we place small information files called 'cookies' on your computer.

Why do we use cookies?

To remember your settings, for example your language and location. This means you don’t have to keep entering these details when you visit a new page.

To find out how you use the site to help us update and improve it.

How do I change my cookie settings?

You can change the settings of your web browser so that it won’t accept cookies. For more information visit AboutCookies.org.

But, doing this may stop you from using some of the online features and services on this website. 

Cookies we use

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Required functionality cookies – these cookies are essential for the website to work.

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Take a look at a list of cookies we use on our website:

NameTypeHow we use itHow long we use the information for

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Required functionality

An automatic cookie set by our software. 

Just for the time you are on our website.

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Required functionality

An automatic cookie set by our software. 

Just for the time you are on our website.

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Required functionality

To track the effectiveness of our website using Google Analytics. 

2 years

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Performance and feature

To save the pages that you visit by clicking the heart at the top of the page. 

1 month

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Performance and feature

This stores your postcode (or partial postcode) when we ask you for your location.

Just for the time you are on our website or 30 days (you choose this).

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Performance and feature

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Just for the time you are on our website or 30 days (you choose this).

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Performance and feature

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Required functionality

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There are links and content from other sites and services on our website. These sites and services set their own cookies.

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Cookies of the same names are also used for the same purpose by other websites such as Building FuturesCountryside Management Service and Hertfordshire LIS.

Visit the Google Analytics website for more information about the cookies they use.

You can prevent data from being collected and used by Google Analytics by installing Google's Opt-out Browser Add-on.

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It expires at the end of your browser session.

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