Medical conditions policy: children’s lives put at risk in school

The Health Conditions in Schools Alliance – a collection of over 30 leading charities and health organisations – has released new data detailing the lack of medical conditions policies in schools across England; leaving thousands of children at risk

According to the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance ‘thousands of children with long-term medical conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, asthma and epilepsy are being put at risk in schools across England’.

Based on data released under the Freedom of Information Act – alongside investigations by Diabetes UK – the alliance revealed that nine in 10 schools in England investigated were unable to present an adequate medical conditions policy.

A medical conditions policy helps school staff to care for any child with long term health conditions; having such policy has been mandatory since September 2014.

A medical conditions policy outlines how to adequately care for any child at school with a long term medical condition.

Some key points as set out by statutory guidance include:

  • Governing bodies should ensure that school leaders consult health and social care professionals, pupils and parents to ensure that the needs of children with medical conditions are properly understood and effectively supported.
  • Governing bodies must ensure that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils at school with medical conditions.
  • Pupils at school with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips and physical education.

The alliance has outlined that of the few schools that did provide a policy, two thirds were inadequate and missed key details such as staff training, how to safely include the child in all activities, and crucially, what to do in an emergency.

And further it has called on the DfE to do more to make schools aware of their legal responsibility and on Ofsted to start checking that schools are complying with the legislation that makes medical conditions policies compulsory.

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“The law states all schools should have a medical conditions policy outlining how to care for any children with medical conditions, the procedures for getting the right care and training, and who is responsible for making sure the policy is carried out.

“Without this document in place, staff may not know how to properly care for a child with a medical condition which can lead to very dangerous consequences, and in a worst case scenario; death.

“OFSTED need to check for medical conditions policies as part of its inspections to ensure schools are doing everything in their power to keep children safe. We’re currently in talks with the Department for Education, but it needs to be more active in letting schools know it is their legal duty to produce and implement this document,” the alliance has said.

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