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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
OxPARC

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School advice and support

We are always happy to support you and offer tips and advice for managing at school. Please feel free to contact us on 01865 737266 for an appointment or ask to see us when you are in clinic.

If you want, we can write a letter to your teachers, explaining your condition, what to expect and how they can help. In some cases we may visit school or speak with an occupational therapist local to you who can visit your school.

Children with arthritis in their hands, fingers and wrists, may find writing difficult and we can assess their pencil grip and handwriting and provide specific advice around this. Please contact us if you need this support at any point.

We also have information for teachers on this site, in our Professionals’ zone.

Arthritis Research UK, also provides some very helpful information. Please use the links below.

Transition from Primary to Secondary School

Once a year we offer a group to discuss transition from primary to secondary school whilst enjoying some pizza and a chat with other youngster who are in the same boat. However, we know that not everyone is able to attend this, and we would therefore like to provide you with our Top 10 Tips for Transition to Secondary School.

Top Ten tips for children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) before starting Secondary School

  1. Ask your occupational therapist for a JIA school letter with your diagnosis, recommendations and advice for school. (This is particularly relevant when you have active disease)
  2. Arrange a face to face meeting with the Head of Year 7/SENCO, prior to starting secondary school. (With parent and child present.) Take the OT's letter with you to this meeting to guide discussion. It may make most sense to book this after a transition visit, as you will have a better idea of the school site, walking distances/stairs/ lunch hall, etc.
  3. Ask for a key worker (main contact) whom to approach on a bad day and who will distribute information to teachers quickly. Ask for contact details for parents to contact this person quickly and easily in the event of a flare or difficulties.

Provide school with an OXPARC business card with our staff contacts details and a JIA leaflet with advice for teachers. (These can be provided by any member of the team.) Alternatively the following link may be helpful for teachers.

  1. Discuss confidentiality and your child’s wishes. For example, only teachers to know diagnosis or plan to inform friends/tutor group in formal/informal way. It is important for your child to be treated as normal in order to develop good peer relationships and personal independence.
  2. Other items you may want to discuss at the meeting:
    • Understanding that the condition can be variable from day to day.
    • Medication needs and side-effects.
    • Time off school for appointments/blood tests. Arrange a system of getting work sent home when absent from school.
    • Discuss exam arrangements and school’s procedures for arranging this. For example, if you need rest breaks from writing to stretch your fingers and legs?
    • Differences between primary and secondary school and concerns you may have about these. For example, long queues for lunch, heavy bags, lockers, walking around a bigger campus.
    • Discuss need for pacing self during flares and that your child may need to take short rest breaks during PE.
  3. Arrange follow-up meeting with Head of Year/SENCO for approximately 4-6 weeks after starting secondary school to discuss how it is going. (This may not be necessary if your arthritis is well-controlled.)
  4. Make use of all transition visits offered by the secondary school.
  5. Contact the occupational therapists at OXPARC if you need advice or support at any point. Telephone 01865 737266.
  6. If your child has active arthritis affecting function in the following school years, you may want to arrange a meeting with the Head of Year or SENCO on a yearly basis as needed.