Whilst your health can have a particularly significant impact upon your education, the way in which you manage your education can also have an equally significant impact upon your health. It is therefore important to try and balance your studies and your healthcare so as not to damage either.
Most long-term health conditions will require regular consultations and appointments with a GP or medical consultant. These regular visits and check-ups will help you to manage the more serious symptoms and day-to-day management of your condition. It will also highlight any unusual symptoms which could otherwise go unnoticed. Looking after yourself at home by taking regular breaks from studying, having plenty of sleep, staying hydrated and if appropriate, fitting in some gentle regular exercise will also help you to maintain your physical health and allow you to put in maximum effort into gaining the best academic results.
It is important not to allow the pressures and stresses of studying to become too overwhelming as this could have negative consequences on your health. Your mental and physical health should always come before your grades. Remember that whilst it is possible to re-sit an exam or resubmit coursework, it is not as easy to repair damage to your physical health.
Further Education (16+) (A Level)
Secondary Education (Age 11-16) (GCSE, BTEC)
Make your school/teachers aware of your condition and let them know what additional support you require, or what support they may be able to offer. This includes putting a plan in place for what should happen if you become unwell during school hours.
Plan ahead and be proactive in taking ownership of your health by letting those around you know if you are not feeling well and need to take medication or see a doctor. The sooner you make people aware the better they will be able to help.
Devise a care plan for periods of both planned and unplanned absences from school, such as getting work/homework sent home to complete, using online resources to keep up with the curriculum (for example MyMaths.co.uk or Maths Watch) or having catch ups with teachers once you return to school.
Requesting extra time, rest breaks, a different chair or a separate room to sit exams are only some of the possible adjustments you can request to help reduce the stress of exams and avoid making yourself unwell. Find out what alternative exam provisions you are entitled to and then use them.
If you do become unwell throughout an exam period and miss an important exam or coursework deadline be sure to check whether you qualify for an application of extenuating circumstances/special consideration. This could allow for your exam marks to be adjusted to reflect the fact that you were disadvantaged due to illness or unavoidable circumstances beyond your control at the time of the exam or coursework/controlled assessment. This can also apply if you are absent from an examination for a valid reason, such as a hospital admission.
EDUCATION & HEALTH - TOP TIPS
Higher Education Age 16+
(Undergraduate Degree, Masters Degree, Post Graduate Degree and A Level)
If starting higher education involves living on a university campus it is important that you register with your campus doctors or at the nearest local GP surgery so that you can access medical assistance when necessary. Registering will allow your new surgery to access your medical records so that your new GP can make important decisions based on your own medical history. For periods when you are away from university such as the extended summer breaks, you may find it useful to register as a temporary resident at your home GP surgery so that you can maintain access to medical care should you need it.
As you are living away from home it is also important to speak to someone from your university’s student services. They should be made fully aware of your medical condition so that they can act quickly should you ever require medical assistance whilst on campus. They should make sure that you have everything you need in your room on campus, such as central heating, a ground floor room or use of a lift where appropriate. It is important that your university explain to you the process of accessing emergency medical attention and/or NHS ambulance services whilst on campus as it can be difficult for NHS paramedics to locate your room without assistance from campus staff.
Higher education is, by nature, more independent than secondary and further education and students are expected to take a greater responsibility for their learning. It also involves a lot less contact time with tutors and professors who each have many more students to teach. It is therefore crucial that you are proactive in speaking to the relevant tutors or academic staff whenever you have a problem. They may be able to assist with going over course material or offering deadline extensions.
Find out what assessment arrangements you are entitled to such as sitting exams in a smaller, quieter room, having extra time, use of a computer or rest breaks.