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Looking after a child with diabetes in school

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We know there’s a lot to think about if you have a child with diabetes in your school and your care.

It’s really important that a child with diabetes feels confident and safe in school and doesn’t miss out on any part of their education because of diabetes. So, we’ve developed loads of different tools and resources to help you do this.

The basics

Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. There are two main types, Type 1 and Type 2.

Most children in school will have Type 1 diabetes, which is a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high because your body can't make a hormone called insulin.

Having Type 1 has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle, it just happens. We're still not sure what causes it.

To find out more about Type 1 diabetes, our newly diagnosed page can help you understand what it is, the ways that it’s treated and what the day-to-day life is like for someone with diabetes.

How can diabetes affect a student’s learning?

Diabetes can affect a child’s learning because it can cause difficulties with attention, memory, processing speed and perceptual skills if it’s not managed.

It’s really important that a child is supported at school so they can manage their diabetes and get the most out of being at school.

Some children with diabetes will have more absences than other students. This won’t be the case for every child with diabetes, but if they do take time off for hospital appointments or feeling unwell because of diabetes, it’s important they don’t get penalised for this if possible.

It’s the parent’s responsibility to tell you their child has diabetes as soon as possible, so make sure you discuss your school’s absence policy with them and how you can be flexible to make sure the child doesn’t feel set up to fail.

Legislation in your school's nation

Different nations in the UK look after education laws, policies and legislation, so it changes slightly depending on where your school is. Below is a table that shows what policies and guidance your nation has in place to make sure the children in your school get the best care possible.

  Legislation Statutory Guidance
England

Equality Act 2010

Children and Families Act 2014

Supporting pupils with medical conditions at schools

Independent school regulations

Wales Equality Act 2010 Supporting learners with Healthcare needs
Scotland Equality Act 2010 None
Northern Ireland Disability Discrimination Act 1995 None

Good diabetes care in schools

If you’ve just had a child start, move schools or recently been diagnosed with diabetes, we have our school’s information pack to help you.

We’ve designed this to help you introduce school policies, learn about diabetes, and make sure you’re giving the best care possible.

Order our schools pack

Good Diabetes care in schools Award

We created our Good Diabetes Care in Schools Award to congratulate schools who are committed to providing great care to children with diabetes.

We celebrate schools that work with parents and healthcare professionals to make sure children with diabetes have an easy as possible experience at school.

Learn more about the Good Diabetes Care in Schools Award

Our good practice checklist

All schools should have these basic procedures in place to support students with a long-term medical condition, such as diabetes.

  • A medical conditions policy
    Medical conditions policies are created by the local authority and the school’s board of governors and should be review regularly. They cover what actions should be taken by the school to make sure a child is looked after, and that they are fully included in the day-to-day life of the school. In England, every school must have a medical conditions policy.

    If your school is in Wales, you must have a healthcare needs policy in place, which your local authority and governors should create and maintain.

    In Scotland, education authorities and NHS boards should work together to create and agree on a policy framework to support children in their local area’s schools. Getting it Right for Every Child is the national approach in Scotland that aims to improve the care of students with medical conditions.
  • An Individual Health Care Plan
    Individual Health Care Plans, or IHPs, are called different things depending on the nation your school is in. But these plans are used to make sure a child’s diabetes in managed properly during school time. The child’s parents and their PDSN should be there when a child’s personal plan is created. It should also be updated and reviewed regularly.
     
  • Make sure you work together
    Everyone should be working together to make sure a child with a medical condition has the best experience at school. You should feel happy and confident that your communication with the child, their parents and diabetes team is constructive and regular. 
     
  • Training and support
    At least two members of staff at your school should be fully trained to support a child and their diabetes. It’s important that all members of staff have a general awareness training too, the PDSN should do this training. The child’s parents might help with this training too. 

Be safe in school

There are over one million children in school right now who manage lifelong medical conditions. So along with the Health Conditions in School Alliance, we’re in conversation with the government to make sure every child gets the care they need in school.
 

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