DAME Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport and former Minister at both the Department of Health & Social Care and the Department for Education, called this week for the government to improve educational provision for children diagnosed with cancer.
Education, Health & Care Plans (EHCPs) describe the educational needs of young people, and support needed. EHCPs are currently not universal for children with cancer, meaning educational provisions are inconsistent.
Now Dame Caroline is pushing for the government to consider automatic EHCP provisions for children diagnosed with cancer, and has requested a meeting with the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, to discuss this issue.
This comes as part of her campaign for a Childhood Cancer Mission alongside constituent Charlotte Fairall, from Stubbington, who lost her daughter, Sophie, at just 10 years of age due to Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Speaking in the Commons debate on Tuesday, February 28, Dame Caroline said: “Around 4,500 children every year are diagnosed with cancer and prolonged absences from school, and the ongoing impact of treatment means they also often expect worse educational outcomes.
“Access to Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) is not universal for children with cancer. It’s long winded and very patchy.
“I wonder what thought has been given on automatic entitlement to EHCPs for all children with a cancer diagnosis, and whether the excellent Minister will meet with me to discuss it?”
Mr Gibb, said in response: “I will of course meet with the excellent former minister to discuss this, which is a very important issue. The Special Educational Needs and AP improvement plan will be published shortly, but I do share her concern.”
“One of the issues that has come out of Covid is that there is more remote learning now available for children at home who are unable to get to school for whatever reason, and that will of course apply to children in hospital as well.”
Dame Caroline previously served as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Education from May 2015 until June 2017, and as Minister of State in the Department for Health & Social Care from January 2018 until February 2020.
PICTURED: Gosport Conservative MP Dame Caroline Dinenage addresses House of Commons chamber.