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Schools lack proper policies for pupils with medical conditions, charities warn

Thousands of children with long-term medical conditions are being put at risk every time they go to school, a group of charities has warned.
School_asthma-iStock.jpg

Thousands of children with long-term medical conditions are being put at risk every time they go to school, a group of charities has warned.

Children and young people in England with conditions including type 1 diabetes, asthma and epilepsy risk 'dangerous consequences' while at school, due to inadequate medical condition policies.

According to the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance a coalition of more than 30 charities and health organisations including Diabetes UK, Asthma UK and Crohn's and Colitis UK without such policies, staff may not know how to properly care for children with medical conditions.

An investigation conducted by the charities concluded that almost nine in ten schools could not present an 'adequate'

Thousands of children with long-term medical conditions are being put at risk every time they go to school, a group of charities has warned.


The result of inadequate or non-existent medical condition policies in schools means that staff
may not know how to properly care for children with medical conditions. Picture: iStock

Children and young people in England with conditions including type 1 diabetes, asthma and epilepsy risk 'dangerous consequences' while at school, due to inadequate medical condition policies. 

According to the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance – a coalition of more than 30 charities and health organisations including Diabetes UK, Asthma UK and Crohn's and Colitis UK – without such policies, staff may not know how to properly care for children with medical conditions.

An investigation conducted by the charities concluded that almost nine in ten schools could not present an 'adequate' medical conditions policy, which have been mandatory since September 2014.

Thousands at risk

The charities looked at 200 randomly-selected schools across England, including state primary and secondary maintained schools, academy trusts, free schools and sixth form colleges, using information obtained through school websites or Freedom of Information requests.

Of these, only 23 schools (11.5%) demonstrated that they had an adequate medical conditions policy. A total of 45 schools (22.5%) were deemed to have an 'inadequate' policy when measured against nine statutory requirements. The majority, amounting to 132 schools, failed to demonstrate that they had any medical condition policy in place.

The Alliance said this equated to thousands of children and young people being put at risk in schools.

It called on the Department for Education (DfE) to make schools aware of their legal responsibility to have such policies and for Ofsted to check that schools were complying with the law.

Legal duty

In a statement, the Alliance said: '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 needs 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 DfE, but it needs to be more active in letting schools know it is their legal duty to produce and implement this document.'

Mandatory 

A DfE spokesperson said: 'Children with medical conditions should receive all the support they need to enjoy a full education in a safe environment.

'In 2014 we made it mandatory for schools to make arrangements to support these pupils so there are no barriers to them accessing a high-quality education.

'We continue to work with the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance, and others, to raise awareness of schools' responsibilities.'


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