Your child is entitled to a full and rewarding education in every way that a child without an immunodeficiency is. This right is enshrined at the very highest level, by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
You and your child are in an unassailable position in that regard, so feel confident about this when dealing with education authorities.
Hopefully, this will mean you can give clear thought and planning to how your child’s school life may develop from nursery all the way through to university, making sure you understand the options open to them at each stage.
Throughout education the emphasis should be on inclusion in all activities.
What the United Nations says
Your child’s right to education is specifically defined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In Article 2 it makes clear that the entire convention applies equally to all children regardless of their disorder and the way it affects their health and capabilities.
All rights apply equally to all children without exception. It is the State’s obligation to protect children from any form of discrimination and to take positive action to promote their rights.
Article 28 reinforces the idea that all children have a right to education.
The child has a right to education, and the State’s duty is to ensure that primary education is free and compulsory, to encourage different forms of secondary education accessible to every child and to make higher education available to all on the basis of capacity.
Disabled children’s rights
And finally, article 23 makes it clear that the only problems facing disabled children in enjoying life are to do with their own impairments.
A disabled child has the right to special care, education and training to help him or her enjoy a full and decent life in dignity and achieve the greatest degree of self-reliance and social integration possible.
What if your child, for medical or other reasons, can’t manage going to school? Well, under the Education Act 1996 suitable alternative education has to be made available to them regardless of resource difficulties.
While your child has rights, you need to remember that you, as a parent, also have certain responsibilities, whatever immunodeficiency they may have. The education system in England is divided into nursery for ages 3–4, primary education from 4 to 11, secondary from 11 to 18 and tertiary for 18-plus.
This means that, in England, young people must stay in some form of education or training until they turn 17 (18 if they started Year 11 in September 2013 or later). You need to make sure your child is receiving an education between the ages of 5 and 17/18.
Currently, children start primary school in the academic year that they turn five.
Once they reach 16 they can continue their education for another two years in sixth form, usually leading to A-level qualifications, though other qualifications may be available.