Whether your child is starting school or going back to school after being diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important that their school provides the help and support they need to manage their condition.
All children with Type 1 diabetes should get the support and care they deserve at school so that they have the same opportunities at school as other children.
Many parents feel anxious about their child going to school with their diabetes. Concerns about whether the staff will be able to look after your child the way you want them to or even just leaving your child with someone else are quite common and understandable. We know good care is possible because we’re seeing it happen, and we want to make sure it happens right across the UK.
We know many schools and families need a helping hand, that’s why we're here to help. If you have a question about the care your child should be receiving in school, contact the Diabetes UK Helpline.
You can also get in touch with other parents of children with Type 1 diabetes for support, and practical advice about schools on our Diabetes in Schools online forum.
Good practice checklist
All schools should have the following procedures in place to support students with long-term medical conditions such as diabetes:
Medical conditions policy
This should cover what provisions your school has in place to keep children with medical conditions such as Type 1 diabetes safe and fully included in all school activities. It should be available on the school’s website.
Individual healthcare plan
Every child with a long term medical condition should have an individual healthcare plan to ensure their day to day needs are managed well. You should input into your child’s plan along with their diabetes nurse. It should be updated regularly.
Everyone should be working together in the interest of the child. You should feel happy that you have regular and constructive communication and information sharing with your child’s school.
Training and support
There should be at least two members of staff fully trained to support your child. Other staff should receive general awareness training too. Parents can help train staff but your child’s diabetes nurse is the best person to do this.
Working together with school staff
It does take time to understand diabetes fully, as you’ve learned yourself, but with help and support from you and your paediatric diabetes team, school staff can become competent and confident in looking after your child.
Teachers don’t cover medical conditions during their training. So, unless they’ve taught a child with diabetes in the past, or have experience of diabetes themselves, their knowledge about it might be limited.
How you approach school staff and work with them will depend on your child’s individual needs and their school’s processes.
However, the information in this section will provide a guide to what schools need to know and how you can get that information across to school staff.
When we refer to 'parent' or 'parents', this also includes 'carer' or 'carers'.
What care can I expect for my child at school?
Diabetes UK believes that every child with Type 1 diabetes deserves to have the same education as their classmates. This means:
- No child with Type 1 diabetes should be excluded from any part of the school curriculum.
- Every child with Type 1 diabetes should have access to extracurricular activities, including overnight stays and trips abroad.
- Schools, local authorities and health services should work together to make sure they meet the needs of children with Type 1 diabetes.
- Paediatric diabetes teams should provide training and support to schools, so school staff have the skills and confidence they need to look after a child with Type 1 diabetes.
- No parent should be relied on to go into school to treat their child’s diabetes.
- Every child with Type 1 diabetes should be allowed to inject insulin, in public or private, depending on their wishes.
- Every school should have a ‘medical conditions at school’ policy, which is updated every year.
- Every child with Type 1 diabetes should have an individual healthcare plan (IHCP), which details exactly what their needs are and who will help them.
- Parents should provide up-to-date information about their child’s needs and all the supplies needed to manage diabetes in school.
- Not assuming that all children with Type 1 diabetes have the same needs.
- All school staff should know what to do in case of emergency and at least two people should be trained in how to care for a child with Type 1 diabetes. Planned staff absences should be coordinated so that there is always one trained person in school.
- Schools and parents should agree on a clear method of communication.
- Children with Type 1 diabetes should never be left alone when hypo or be prevented from eating or drinking to prevent or treat a hypo.
- Children with Type 1 diabetes should never be prevented from blood testing or taking insulin and should be able to look after their equipment themselves.
- When children with Type 1 diabetes have exams, specific plans should be included in that year’s IHCP and agreed between the school, the child and their parents.
- Children with Type 1 diabetes should not be frequently sent home or penalised for poor attendance when absence is related to their diabetes.
- Every child with Type 1 diabetes should be listened to and their views taken into account.