School epilepsy program to train regional educators

A new Epilepsy Smart Schools program being rolled out across regional and remote WA trains teachers and educates students beyond first aid response to seizures.

More than 30 WA schools are on the path to accreditation in 2020 with Epilepsy WA so far accrediting two schools and an out-of-school centre as Epilepsy Smart in late 2019.

Epilepsy WA is encouraging any school which has students with the common neurological condition to sign up to the supportive program which offers online resources and training.

Epilepsy WA CEO Emma Buitendag said that one in 200 schoolchildren lives with epilepsy.

"First aid training is a good start but it's no longer enough support as there are 40 different types of seizures and schoolchildren face daily challenges with learning and studying," she said. "Teachers require epilepsy-specific training to understand and meet the ongoing needs of students to help them thrive at school - adapting teaching methods to be more inclusive and effective."

Epilepsy is one of the most misunderstood and hidden conditions, Mrs Buitendag added, and school communities can help foster increased empathy and practical support. In addition to unpredictable and frequent seizures, daily impacts on students can include fatigue, memory loss and emotional stress.

"One of the great things about this Epilepsy Smart program is that we can support all schools regardless of their location," Mrs Buitendag said.

"There's a dedicated Epilepsy Smart Schools portal and we offer training through a live video link or an online learning platform which ensures that regional and remote schools don't feel isolated."

Epilepsy affects more people than cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy and blindness combined.

As well as online certified teacher training, the Epilepsy Smart Schools website offers helpful resources for all parents, teachers and students. Visit: www.epilepsysmartschools.org.au