Schoolkids with medical conditions need greater support, says health charity
Ahead of the APPG for Diabetes' investigation into safety and inclusion of children with medical conditions at school, the InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) have produced a booklet which advises teachers and school support staff on how best to handle the disease.
The Children and Families Act 2014 required all schools in England to have a medical conditions policy in place to set out the procedures and training needed for proper care. The Health Conditions Alliance has shown that 78% of schools do not have a policy in place and in 46% of those with a policy, the policies are inadequate. Therefore despite the law, the majority of schools are not complying so there is a need to do more to ensure that children with medical conditions, such as diabetes, receive the support they need.
In addition, a survey in December 2016 by GMB London, the union for school support staff (teaching assistants), shows that due to reduced funding many schools lost their nurses yet the number of children needing support has increased. Support staff are expected to take on more and more to support children with medical needs and they are taking on this huge responsibility, sometimes with little or no training.
The support staff who responded to the survey said that they are supporting children with a wide range of conditions, from Type 1 diabetes to cerebral palsy. In terms of diabetes, support staff are regularly monitoring blood glucose levels and treating the child with insulin according to the results. The GMB survey showed that amongst those who responded:
- 40% carried out these tasks unsupervised.
- 78% said their increasing medical tasks were not included in their job descriptions and they were not paid for undertaking them.
- 20% received either inadequate or no training, with some saying that the child’s parents had shown them what to do and some had completed online training.
- Many commented that they were just expected to take on these tasks.
It has to be of concern that as a result of lack of funding, school support staff have replaced qualified medical staff. If this has to be the case, then support staff should be recognised for the invaluable work they do and they should not have things continually imposed on them.
Most teachers, and now support staff, are almost certain, at some point in their career, to have a child with diabetes in their class. The InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) is all too well aware of the difficulties this can pose especially in schools with no or inadequate policies, so we have developed a booklet, ‘Diabetes – What Schools Need To Know’.
This booklet is a resource for teachers and school support staff, providing them with general information about diabetes and tips about managing the condition in the school environment.
It covers key facts, including the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, as well as sections on using insulin, diet and carbohydrates, exercise and blood glucose testing. Information on hypoglycaemia, hyperglycaemia, stress and communication are also included.
The booklet looks at not just the practical side of managing diabetes but also the emotional effect it can have on everyone involved, the children with diabetes and their parents, with the aim of minimising the impact that living with the condition can have.
This booklet compliments the Parents Passport for Schools, launched by the charity two years ago, to help to provide a means by which parents can formally communicate their child’s needs in relation to their diabetes in the school environment.
Both booklets are available free of charge from the charity using any of the following details:
InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT), PO Box 294, Northampton NN1 4XS Tel 01604 622837: email: email@example.com www.iddtinternational.org