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Diabetes UK chief executive speaks in House of Lords on school support for Type 1 diabetes

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Diabetes UK Chief Executive Barbara Young has taken part in a House of Lords debate on how children with Type 1 diabetes and other health conditions are supported in schools.Baroness Young, who is a cross-bench peer, spoke in Wednesday’s debate on the Children and Families Bill to thank the Government for amending the Bill to include a statutory duty for schools to support children with long-term conditions, including Type 1 diabetes.This follows a campaign by Diabetes UK and the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance for the Bill to be amended.We believe that the legal duty has the potential to make a big difference to children with Type 1 diabetes in school. This is because many parents currently struggle to get the school support they need for their child to be able to make the most of their education.

Schools should have a very clear responsibility

Speaking in the Lords debate, Baroness Young welcomed the fact that the Government’s response to the campaign should mean "schools now have a very clear responsibility to look after these children".

The detail of what schools will have to do to support children with medical conditions from September 2014 was also made public to Members of the House of Lords for the first time. While welcoming much of what is in the statutory guidance, Baroness Young urged the Government to recognise and explain the key role specialists nurses have in getting support in schools in place.

Specialist nurses are important for children with diabetes

She said, "School nurses are important, but so are specialist nurses for various conditions because in many cases their specialist knowledge will be required to establish an adequate plan for each child. Therefore, this issue cannot be left simply to school nurses."Baroness Young also questioned what would happen if the NHS failed to provide schools with training and support, and called for clarification about the role of Ofsted in monitoring the new rules, which are expected to come into effect in September.

Ofsted inspection guidance to take into account new duty

Lord Nash, Under Secretary of State for Schools, responded by saying he had written to Ofsted to ask it to support the new duty through the inspection process.He said, "I am pleased to report that… Ofsted has replied saying it places great importance on this matter, and has confirmed that it will take into account the new duty when preparing its inspection guidance ahead of September 2014."

Public consultation

Early next week, the Government is expected to publish their draft of the guidance that sets out the support that schools will be expected to provide, which will then go out to public consultation. It will also mark the beginning of our 2014 children’s campaign which will focus on helping parents and schools get the right support in place for children with Type 1 diabetes. As part of the campaign we will be encouraging as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and tell the Government what they think should be in the new guidance.

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