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Exams and diabetes management at school

Under equality laws across the UK, every school has to make reasonable adjustments to help any child who might have a disability, which includes Type 1 diabetes, from not getting the grades they deserve because of it. 

Although parents and children might not consider diabetes as a disability, they are still covered under these equality laws. In the England, Scotland and Wales these laws come under the Equality Act 2010 and in Northern Ireland they come under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. 

If your child has left school, we also have information on university and further education exams.

Who is responsible for making reasonable adjustments? 

The responsibility for making reasonable adjustments depends on the type of exam that a child is taking. 

Some adjustments will be the school’s responsibility, and some will be the Joint Council for Qualifications, or the JCQ, responsibility. 

The JCQ is the organisation most of the national awarding bodies that offer qualifications in the UK. If the reasonable adjustments are the responsibility of the JCQ, it’s important that these are made ahead of time. 

What type of reasonable adjustments are there? 

The two main types of help which might be available for a child with diabetes are access arrangements and special considerations. 

Examples of access arrangements

  • Being allowed to take drinks and snacks into an exam to prevent or treat a hypo or hyper.
  • Being allowed to bring in their blood sugar monitor and insulin treatment into an exam.
  • Taking a supervised rest break to treat a hypo or hyper. Supervised rest breaks are where the clock is paused while a student treats themselves. The clock restarts when they’ve recovered. 

Special considerations 

Getting special considerations can be difficult to get because there must be evidence showing what happened, for example, a record of the child’s blood sugar levels. 

Students with Type 1 diabetes might be able to apply for special considerations if their blood sugar has been low or high and it has affected their performance in an exam. 


To find out more about helping a child with Type 1 diabetes prepare for their exams, download our Type 1 diabetes and exams resource. 

Download our Type 1 diabetes and exams tool

This resource was developed to make sure students with diabetes can do their best in exams. It is most relevant for secondary school exams, although it can come in handy in primary school too.

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