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Schools’ Duty of Care for Children with Health Conditions Needs Implementation

The Health Conditions in School Alliance campaigns to ensure implementation of measures so that all children with long term health conditions are cared for in school in accordance with the Children and Families Act 2014.

The Health Conditions in School Alliance (HCSA) is a group of 30 organisations that works to ensure that children with health conditions are properly provided and cared for at school.

The Campaign for Care

They were instrumental in the change in legislation in England, the laws relating to care of children with long term health conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, vary across the UK depending on the particular nation. The Children and Families Act 2014 includes a duty on schools to support children with medical conditions. Schools must make arrangements for supporting pupils with medical conditions at school and in meeting that duty they must have regard to the statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

What is required by schools to fulfil the duty?

The relevant aspect of this Act for schools to ensure the duty is met include:

  • Governing bodies or proprietors to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that children and young people with disability are not put at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers.
  • Adjustments must be put in place in advance to prevent disadvantage from occurring, this can be covered in the child’s Individual Healthcare Plan.
  • Enough school staff trained to care for the child’s individual health needs so that a child can take part in all aspects of school life and feel discredited against.

Medical Conditions Policy

All schools should have a medical conditions policy which states how the school will care for any child with medical conditions, the procedures for getting the right care and training in place and who is responsible for making sure the policy is carried out. Schools in England are required by law to have a medical conditions policy.

What now…?

Despite the change in law and the supporting Statutory Guidance, many schools are not implementing the changes to ensure that children with health conditions are properly cared for. It is now the aim of the HCSA to increase awareness of the duty and for schools to make the necessary adjustment to ensure suitable care is provided.

The HCSA has written to the Minister of State for Children and Families, Edward Timpson MP, urging him to take clear action to raise awareness of and ensure compliance with the duty across schools in England. The HCSA has also called on the Minister to share how the Department for Education is monitoring awareness of the requirements of the duty by schools. The HCSA is calling the duty to be included as part of Ofsted reporting to ensure widespread implementation in all schools.

The Good Diabetes Care in School Award

The Good Diabetes Care in School Award is recognition scheme designed by Diabetes UK to showcase schools providing good practice diabetes care. The application process is robust and requires supporting information from parents of children with Type 1 diabetes, healthcare professionals and a medical conditions policy in line with the duty. The Award process has had in total 141 applications with 119 schools being successful. The scheme demonstrates that good care for complex health needs is being achieved in line with the Children and Families Act 2014, what is required now is to ensure all schools, across all health conditions meet the duty.

To support this duty of schools the HCSA has developed template tools of key documents required to support pupils with health conditions under the duty. The documents can be found on the HCSA website.

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