Type 1 diabetes is a complex condition that can pose many problems and can make school life more difficult.
Whether your child is starting school or going back to school after being diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to make sure that they get the help and support from their school that they need.
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 are proud to say that we have a good relationship with many schools within the area and are welcomed; often at very short notice; into local schools; where we can offer education and support to teaching and ancilliary staff ; in order to ensure the safety of your child.
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.
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.
Further information can be obtained in our South Tees School Support Leaflet
What can I expect from the diabetes team?
Alison Murray, Julie Stonehouse, Christine McPartland or Sonia Armstrong; paediatric diabetes specialist nurses will contact your child’s school on diagnosis or annually to offer:
- Education to enable teaching and ancilliary staff to support your child
- Advice on supporting a child with diabetes
- Annual diabetes updates at a number of local schools for all members of staff from any school; within the vicinity
- An individualised health care plan
Your diabetes nurses are now holding nurse-led diabetes clinic in all secondary schools in order to see children and young people in school. This is to support and engage with our patients by simply catching up and chatting, to review bloods glucose readings and we may also use the opportunity to advance your child’s diabetes education in preparation for further school, college or work.
This nurse-led clinic will be a similar experience to any regular appointment with the diabetes nurses and is in addition to your normal routine clinics. This does not replace the appointments with the nurse, consultant and dietician. However, it may reduce the times you need to attend the hospital for review appointments and would mean less time off school, less time and days off work for your parent(s) and less money spent on hospital parking fees!
Information for school trips or exams
Diabetes UK have developed 2 new toolkits to help prepare for school trips and exams. These are useful resources for schools and we recommend downloading them and discussing with your child’s teacher or head of year.
Good diabetes care in school award
We know that many schools across the UK are caring for children with Type 1 diabetes brilliantly because parents have told us. That’s why we’re celebrating and showcasing the fantastic care they provide through this unique Award.
This exciting award recognises the schools that are making sure children and young people with Type 1 diabetes get the most out of their time at school.
Well done to Lakes Primary, Redcar, Eskdale School in Whitby and Macmillan Academy in Middlesbrough for being awarded the Good Diabetes Care in school award.
Laurence Jackson School leaflet
Laurence Jackson School in Guisborough have a number of pupils with diabetes (eleven in 2014) and have worked with the diabetes nurses to promote good diabetes care within school. As part of a project to raise awareness they have produced a leaflet for a child newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes already attending their school or any pupils transitioning from local primary schools. This leaflet is given to the child and supports a smooth transition process and is aimed at alleviating parental anxiety.
The pupils presented the work they had done at The South Tees Nightingale Awards in 2014, they also presented at the North East and Cumbria Network Meeting in Gateshead in 2015 and at the North Yorkshire and Humberside Network meeting in York in 2015. Diabetes teams across the region were very complementary about the work the pupils had undertaken and commended for their efforts in supporting fellow peers.
Annual update teaching staff in schools
The paediatric diabetes nurses and dietitians hold several teaching sessions in local schools in September each year. All schools are contacted annually and advised of the dates and venues available and are invited to send key staff or any member of staff who have an interest in supporting a child in school. These are a useful annual refresher or for staff new in post or who are teaching a child with diabetes for the first time.
These sessions do not replace education for a child newly diagnosed with diabetes or for a child moving into the area. If your child has recently moved school please inform the diabetes team so that we can ensure staff have had appropriate training.
If you have any concerns regarding the care and support your child recieves in school please do not hesitate to contact us.