The long-term prognosis for children after encephalitis varies considerably. In some instances, children come through the illness with little or no consequences. In others, children have considerable life-long difficulties or appear to have recovered well, but their future learning and personal development are affected. Parents report the difficulties at school as one of the main problems post-encephalitis.

Returning to school after encephalitis is a very important step in the child’s recovery, in terms of both their social and educational reintegration. However, sometimes returning to school is a continuous battle to get the right services for the child at the right time. 

The guidance produced by the Society (Returning to school after encephalitis. Guidance for school staff) aims to assist school staff when pupils return to school after having had encephalitis and have been left with difficulties. The guidance covers key information about this illness, its effects on health and learning, and also how school can help a child’s recovery. In addition, there is information on specific areas of difficulty (e.g. memory, fatigue, behaviour, social skills) and their impact on learning.

With the ever increasing workload in school, we understand that not all teachers have the time to read this comprehensive book, therefore we also produced a summary of this guidance (Returning to school after encephalitis. Guidance for school staff. A Summary). The summary can be useful for an overview on encephalitis and its impact on learning before the more in depth knowledge discussed in the full guidance is required.

Overall, the guidance emphasises that it is essential for school staff to understand that encephalitis can leave children with an acquired brain injury (ABI) which is responsible for various difficulties such as cognitive, emotional, behavioural, physical and social.

The ABI may have a significant impact on a child’s learning and school life, with the child no longer performing and behaving as before the illness. These difficulties can lead to isolation, as others do not understand the cause of the child’s changed ability and behaviour. The child’s confidence diminishes. They may become anxious and withdrawn or they may exhibit challenging behaviour. 

Adequate information provided to school staff, active communication among parents, teachers, health care professionals and the child, realistic plans and expectations, and a willingness to learn and work together can help children both overcome the difficulties left by encephalitis and to have a positive learning experience. 

If you are a parent/carer of a child who had encephalitis and struggle to have their needs met at school please take a copy of this guidance and hand it over to SENCO or your child's teacher. Both the summary and the full guidance can be downloaded from our website or requested from our office by email  [email protected] or  phone +44(0)1653 692583.

We are extremely grateful to all our professionals and supporters who have helped develop this guidance!


Feedback from parents:

It is fantastic for you to have produced such an extremely helpful and comprehensive document. (I wish we had had it!)

Feedback from parents:

This document is such an amazing resource. It’s clear, comprehensive and covers everything you would need to know when planning a child’s return to school. I think it would be ideal for a SENCO or class teacher who plans for and teaches the child. I particularly like the quotes which bring the subject matter alive.

Feedback from parents:

I can’t thank you enough for this information, it’s so helpful. It’s strange because on one hand I’m thankful to know more but on the other feel quite sad about it. It seems that there’s no quick fix for this. I have printed the document off and will give it to her teacher tomorrow. We are having a meeting at the school in a few weeks so I’ll be armed with much more information this time. I think I know who needs to be involved with her know.