During a cycling proficiency test Jenny suffered a severe hypoglycaemic attack. Staff hadn’t checked to make sure she had her hypo kit with her, and made her walk back to the school. With her still hypoglycaemic, this was dangerous and anything could have happened as she walked through London.
I had to come into school to help her as the poor care she received had left her in a bad way and staff didn’t know what to do. It took a long time to get her blood sugars back to a safe level and it was a really awful experience for everyone involved.
And it wasn’t just the physical pain she suffered. She found the whole experience really embarrassing and distressing, and now she’s finding it a real challenge to manage her diabetes.
She’s also now nervous about taking part in extra-circular activities like sports, after her experience with the cycling test. It’s really sad that Jenny’s been discouraged from doing the things she enjoys because her school didn’t have the policies in place to keep her safe.
This life-threatening event could have, and should have, been avoided. A law was passed in 2014 to protect all these children after the Diabetes UK Make the grade campaign stating that all schools in England should have a medical conditions policy in place for all children with long-term medical conditions like Type 1 diabetes.
Jenny’s school didn’t know they needed a policy. But it wasn’t just Jenny’s school. I did some research around my local area and no school was even aware they needed to have a medical conditions policy in place. That’s why I started my petition: this is clearly a big problem that needs action on a national level.
Comments on my petition are coming from all around the country, saying schools in their area aren’t delivering the care they need. And that’s backed up by Diabetes UK figures! By law every school should have policies in place to keep children with medical conditions safe, but only 12 per cent could show they have the right policies in place.
But there’s also loads of positive comments on my petition from parents saying their school couldn’t be more supportive of children’s medical conditions. Although it’s disappointing there’s still this post-code lottery in care in school, it’s reassuring to know really good care is possible, and that it starts with having a medical conditions policy in place.
It’s not just Type 1 diabetes either. Children with conditions like ME, coeliac, epilepsy, migraines and asthma should also have medical conditions policies in place to keep them safe in school. That means up to 2 million children with medical conditions are being put at risk because schools aren’t aware of their legal responsibilities to keep children safe.
To me all this means it’s clear that the government and school inspector Ofsted need to do more to make schools aware of their responsibilities. They should also check that those policies are in place and working to keep our children safe in school.
And that’s exactly what I’m asking for in my petition. For Ofsted to start checking whether schools have effective medical condition policies in place and for the government to make schools aware they need to have medical conditions policies to protect children like Jenny.
We have made some progress over the past couple of months. Ofsted have met with us and promised to look again at the training and support they give inspectors, and write to the Department of Education asking for a change in legal guidance. And just last week the Department of Education agreed to meet and promote a video explaining to schools how to create a great medical conditions policy.
But nothing has changed yet. So please sign my petition to make the Minister and Ofsted sit up, take notice, and act to keep children safe in school. If we convince Ofsted and the Minister that things need to change, millions of children won’t have to suffer or have their lives put at risk, like Jenny did.