As allergies and chronic conditions continue to rise, parents worry that children are not given the appropriate level of care in schools.
The ID Band Company conducted a national health survey from October 2014 to January 2015, which was entered by 500 participants. 55% of parents who entered felt that their children with medical conditions and allergies were not adequately supported at school.
Diabetic Pupils Unable to Use Medical Aids
Some parents expressed concerns over school protocols not being altered to suit children with chronic conditions.
Neila Evans has experienced frustration with her daughter’s South Yorkshire senior school. The Swinton based mum was horrified when Arianne who has Type 1 diabetes was told to leave the classroom after using her blood glucose monitor – an important device for diabetes management.
“Arianne’s teacher thought she was using her mobile phone which is against school policy, but she was actually just checking her blood sugar levels as she had the symptoms of a hypo.
The diabetic 14 year old was also asked remove her medical ID bracelet, which offered instructions on how people can treat her in an emergency.
Arianne’s bracelet has ‘T1 diabetic’ and her mum’s mobile number engraved offering vital details in an emergency situation.
It also features the snake and staff symbol which is recognised by paramedics worldwide.
“The school told her she couldn’t wear the bracelet for health and safety reasons,” said Neila.
“When she was asked to leave the classroom for using the monitor, she had a reading of 2.6 mmol/L. (millimoles per litre), when she should really be at 4 mmol/L.”
Arianne was forced to stand in the school corridor alone when her body desperately needed sugar.
“She could have passed out, and as she wasn’t wearing her ID bracelet passers-by would have no idea about her condition.”
Luckily Arianne finished school and returned home safely. After telling her mum about the ordeal, a frustrated Nelia told the school just how important medical aids like the monitor and ID bracelet are for Arianne.
“I made it clear that the blood glucose monitor is an integral part of diabetes management. Wearing her wristband at school is also important not only for Arianne’s benefit, but also to help other people give her the necessary treatment.”
Support from Schools Requires Good Communication
Parkhall Integrated College in Northern Ireland have around 200 students with a wide range of medical conditions and allergies.
The secondary school’s headteacher George Beattie says support for pupils with medical conditions all comes down to the ethos of offering good pastoral care:
“We have pupils here with many different allergies and health issues, from kidney problems to chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma.
“Supporting children with medical conditions all comes down to meeting a child’s individual needs.”
“Good communication with parents is really important. If a child has eyesight issues teachers need to make sure that pupil is seated at the front of the classroom. We also have a student with chronic fatigue syndrome who is placed in ground and lower floor classrooms.”
The headteacher also said that regular communication with staff is equally as important.
“We’ve implemented a medical register with full details on each child’s condition. This is updated weekly and given to all staff.
“If teachers are removing children from the classroom for using a blood monitor, occasions like this are unfortunate. It’s just about awareness, which is easier said than done sometimes, but schools need to communicate and review their procedures regularly.”
Some Schools Praised for their Level of Care
Emma Thomas, 39, from Warwickshire has identical twin boys with severe food allergies. The mum of two has a tough time keeping six year old Dillon and Cameron safe as they need to carry EpiPens in case they go into anaphylactic shock.
“The boys go to The Dassett CE Primary School and the staff there are amazing. The cook will adapt recipes for them so they’re able to have hot meals every day.
“All staff are also EpiPen trained and Cameron and Dillon’s EpiPens are kept in the classroom in case of an emergency. I feel really lucky to have such a fabulous school who not only care about my children’s safety, but also don’t exclude them either.”
Alison Hine, headteacher at the boys’ school says:
“We have care plans for all children with allergies and medical conditions. This includes a photograph of the child, explains what their needs are and what treatment is needed in the circumstance. This is reviewed, dated and signed by the parent on a regular basis so we know all details are correct.
“Every year the staff are trained by the school nurse on what to do in an emergency situation.
“Children with allergies and medical conditions need to be treated the same way as everyone else, but with that awareness, so if the boys were to say they’re feeling poorly – you act on that immediately.
The primary school headteacher also said that having a good relationship with the parents is important.
“Communication with the parents is crucial. We have an open door policy here, so parents feel they can talk us and we’ll listen to them and implement new procedures where necessary.
“In an emergency your procedure could be a matter of life or death so you need to take it seriously.”
New Guidelines to Improve Support Schools Offer
In September 2014 the government launched new guidelines for schools on the support they provide for pupils with medical conditions.
The Children and Families Act 2014 states that all schools should have a medical conditions policy in place. Appropriate training for school staff must be also be arranged ensuring parents feel confident that schools will provide effective support for their child’s medical condition.
These new rules from the Department of Health should mean we’ll notice an improvement in the way children with medical conditions are supported in schools.
Do you have any children with medical conditions or allergies? Is their school providing adequate care? Get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org