Our children’s lives are at risk in schools, claims group of charities

Sharon Roberts, Diabetes UK eastern regional head. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Sharon Roberts, Diabetes UK eastern regional head. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

The lives of children with long-term medical problems are being put at risk because schools are failing to take care of them as well as they should, claims a group of charities.

And a Norfolk mother has spoken up about the problems her daughter with Type 1 diabetes faced - including being left out of school trips and PE lessons.

The Health Conditions in Schools Alliance - 30 charities and health groups including Diabetes UK, Asthma UK and Crohn's & Colitis UK - said 90pc of schools did not have an adequate medical conditions policy for children with conditions including Type 1 diabetes, asthma and epilepsy.

And of the few schools that did provide a policy after Freedom of Information requests, two thirds were inadequate and missed details such as staff training, how to safely include the child in all activities, and what to do in an emergency.

A mother from Norfolk, who wished only to be identified as Sarah, said her daughter, now at secondary school, got only a poor standard of care from her primary school.

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She said: 'The school did not want the staff to be trained to ensure my daughter was safe at school. She was not allowed to go on trips or swimming or even take part in PE lessons as they were worried about her blood sugar levels dropping too low.

'Having to fight to keep your child safe at school every day is not something any parent should be worried about doing, especially on top of looking after a child with a long-term health condition.'

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Sarah is now working with Diabetes UK to improve the care children with Type 1 diabetes receive at school.

The alliance has called on the Department for Education to do more to make schools aware of their legal responsibility to put medical conditions policies in place. It is also calling on Ofsted to start checking if schools are complying with the legislation that makes medical conditions policies compulsory.

Sharon Roberts, Diabetes UK eastern regional head, said: 'The law states all schools should have a medical conditions policy outlining how to care for any children with medical conditions.

'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.'

Norfolk County Council has been asked for a response to the claims.

Petition hopes to change policy on children with medical problems

Another mother, Louise Fyfe-Taylor, has started an online petition to get Ofsted and the Department of Education to do more to ensure schools have a medical conditions policy.

The petition, which can be found on change.org, has more than 7,000 signatures.

Ms Fyfe-Taylor started it after her daughter, Jenny, had issues in school when staff did not recognise the symptoms of hypoglycaemia - low blood sugar - and made her to walk for an hour back to school grounds whilst out doing physical activities.

She said: 'If Jenny's school had had a medical conditions policy in place, this incident would not have happened. Jenny still panics a bit now if she starts to feel ill at school as she worries the staff won't know what to do.'

Diabetes UK, which posed the Freedom of Information request for the alliance, has also heard directly from parents whose children are discriminated against by being excluded from activities and after school clubs because of their condition.

Some have had to sit exams without appropriate support resulting in severe effects on their social and academic development; and some parents have even gone as far as giving up work to make sure their children are safe in school.

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