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What happens about school?

Patient information A-Z

Advice for parents or carers of young patients undergoing surgery for scoliosis

This information sheet aims to support you in requesting school support for your child during their absence for surgery.

The planned scoliosis surgery will require a hospital stay of up to a week followed by a period of recovery at home and a gradual phased return to full time school. Obviously this is likely to cause considerable disruption to your child’s schooling.

At your counselling appointment, you will be given a letter for your child’s school explaining how the surgery will affect attendance and what activities will be possible during the recovery period.

So what next?

  • Send or give this letter to a named teacher who is involved in your child’s learning at school (form tutor, head of year, head of house etc). If possible, we would recommend that you also ask to meet with this teacher or at least speak to them on the telephone. Ideally, give the school two or three weeks notice of the expected absence.
  • Make sure that the letter you sent has been received and that school is fully aware of the length of time your child is expected to be absent. The school will need to make detailed plans to support your child during this time.
  • Ask what arrangements will be made to enable your child to keep up with some schoolwork during the absence. (Bear in mind that your child will not be able to manage everything normally done at school, so it is sensible to focus on the most important subjects). Home tuition may be a possibility and you should certainly enquire whether this may be available for your child.
  • Alternatively, how will work be set? Ask if it will need to be collected from school or can it be emailed to you or your child? What will happen when your child has completed the work? Will it be properly monitored and feedback provided? What happens if your child needs help?

During your child’s hospital stay

During school term time, a team of hospital teachers works on the children’s wards and has responsibility for patients up to the end of school year 11. They will visit your child when appropriate after surgery. In most cases, patients are not well enough immediately after their operation to begin any school work but the teacher will visit to check whether there are any concerns about school and if any help or advice is needed. Gentle learning activities or normal teaching will be offered, if appropriate, but in most cases, recovery is followed quite quickly by discharge home.

Older patients still in education (up to the end of Year 13)

We hope that these guidelines will be helpful in making arrangements to keep up with school or college work after the operation. Unfortunately the hospital teachers are not able to provide specialist teaching in post-GCSE subjects. However, if there are particular worries about the effect of absence on your course, the hospital teacher may be able to provide advice or support. If you feel this is needed, please let your nurse or physiotherapist know so that your request can be passed to the hospital school for a visit to your ward.


Scoliosis surgery does entail a considerable period of absence from school. By informing your child’s school clearly about the treatment plan and recovery period you will enable teachers to prepare suitable work or arrange tuition. Your child is entitled to this support and it will help them to return to school confidently, knowing that they have not fallen too far behind.

Contacts/Further information

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151