Looking after a child with diabetes isn't just the responsibility of one person. But everyone involved in looking after a child with diabetes as a slightly different role and responsibilities in a child’s car
We know that in bigger schools the headteacher, school governors and responsible bodies may decide to hand the responsibility of making arrangements for children with diabetes to other senior members of staff. If this is the case, then they must make sure the responsibilities set out in this section are met.
All schools in the UK have a governing body, though they have different names depending on the type of school and the nation it is in.
Medical conditions policy
As a headteacher, school governor or responsible body, you should make sure the school has a medical conditions policy.
The policy should recognise that medical conditions can be life-threatening, understand how they might affect a child’s ability to learn and that every with a medical condition is different and should be treated as an individual. The school’s complaints procedure must also be part of the medical conditions policy.
The medical conditions policy must make clear who is responsible for the policy. In larger schools, this might not be the headteacher but it must be a member of the senior management team like a deputy headteacher, and they should be named in the policy.
How the medical conditions policy will be carried out in school must be explained, and schools must review and update their policy regularly. This is to make sure that it’s working for children with medical conditions.
The policy must also be readily available for parents and other members of staff to read.
Individual Healthcare Plans
Every child with diabetes will need an Individual Healthcare Plan or IHP. You should make sure each child has an IHP and that it is being carried out in school.
When a school is informed that a child has been diagnosed with diabetes or will be joining the school headteachers should organise the initial meeting to agree the IHP.
You’ll need to make sure the child’s parents, the child’s PDSN and all relevant members of staff are in the meeting. If the child is old enough and it’ appropriate, the child should also be there. The meeting should happen as early as possible before a child with diabetes starts a new school, or within two weeks of having been diagnosed with diabetes.
Headteachers should make sure the school nurse knows that the child’s has diabetes.
A child’s IHP must make clear what equipment and treatment they will need for PE and who should look after this when the child is taking part.
The school’s medical conditions policy should say that staff must receive suitable training and make clear how these staff members will be supported while helping a child.
The policy should make clear how training needs are assessed by the child’s PDSN and how training will be provided.
You should make sure enough staff are trained to care confidently for children with diabetes. If your school has a child with diabetes, at least two members of staff will have to be trained, which normally is done by the child’s diabetes specialist nurse, and parents might also help.
You should also make sure staff have had the right training and that they’ve been signed off as able before they support a child with diabetes.
If you have staff members who are already trained for one child, they’ll still need to be signed off as able to look after another child, as their diabetes care may be very different.
You should make sure the staff members who are trained have their training reviewed and kept up to date. If a child’s diabetes care changes like they may move from injections to an insulin pump, then the staff member will need more training.
If no members of staff volunteer to be trained, then you will need to employ members of staff who are prepared to be trained.
Insulin and equipment
As part of the child’s IHP, parents must give written consent for trained members of staff to give their child insulin.
The school should check insulin given to them is in date. It will generally be made available to the school inside an insulin pen or a pump.
All children with diabetes and trained staff should know where their insulin and equipment like their insulin pens are kept. It should always be to be easily accessible, and some children with diabetes will look after it themselves, and this should be allowed.
For children who don’t look after it themselves, the member of staff that will look after it or where it is stored should be made really clear, so they understand. These details should all go into the child’s IHP.
A child’s diabetes pen, their pump, or blood glucose meter must never be locked away from them.
If a trained member of staff is administering insulin, whether, through a pen or a pump, each dose must be recorded. Our logbooks are really useful at making sure everything is recorded and that communication between the school and parents is clear.
Contingency plans and absence
You should also make contingency plans so the school always has someone who is trained available and you are prepared for staff absence and turnover.
You should make clear how you will inform supply teachers of a child’s diabetes.
You should make sure the school has a suitable level of insurance.
You should make clear in your medical conditions policy any requirements of the insurance, such as staff members supporting children being trained properly.
As a headteacher or governor, there are some practises that aren't acceptable and that you must make sure don't happen in school.
- Only allowing a child with diabetes to take part in an extra-curricular activity or trip if one of their parents or carers accompanies them.
- No child should be prevented from treating themselves or managing their diabetes when and where necessary.
- No school should assume a child’s diabetes is the same as another child's and requires the same treatment.
- The views of children with diabetes and their parents should not be ignored.
- Children with diabetes should not be sent home unnecessarily.
- If a child with diabetes requires treatment they should never be left alone or sent off to the medical room/school office by themselves.
- A child should never have their attendance penalised for attending medical appointments to do with their diabetes. Their IHP should make clear how these are entered in the register so they are not penalised.
- No child should be prevented from eating, drinking and taking toilet breaks if they need to in order to manage their diabetes.
- No child shouldn't be allowed to participate in any part of school like school trips or being in a sports team.
- Schools must not require parents to provide support in school for their child or make them feel like they have to.