The Children and Families Act 2014 (Section 100) placed a new statutory requirement on schools to make arrangements for supporting children with medical conditions, supported by related guidance Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions.
Governing Bodies must ensure:
- Arrangements are in place to support children with medical conditions, and that these arrangements have the confidence of parents.
- Relevant policies and procedures are in place.
- Policies and procedures should cover the role of individual healthcare plans, which should be put in place to ensure effective support for children at school with medical conditions when necessary (see below).
Policies should set out:
- Procedures to be followed.
- The role of Individual Healthcare Plans.
- Roles and responsibilities of all those involved in the arrangements.
- How staff will be supported in carrying out their role, including suitable training.
Where it is necessary to administer medication in school hours, policies must also be clear about the procedures to be followed, including:
- Record keeping
- Arrangements for children who are competent to manage their own health needs
- Storage of medicines and devices
- Arrangements during school trips.
Where clinically possible, medicines should be prescribed in dose frequencies which enable them to be taken outside school hours, but where it is necessary to administer medication in school hours, policies must also be clear about the procedures to be followed, including record keeping, arrangements for children who are competent to manage their own health needs, storage of medicines and devices and arrangements during school trips.
In 1996, the DfE and DoH published a comprehensive good practice guide for schools, ‘Supporting Pupils with Medical Needs’. In 2005 further advice – ‘Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings’ ‐ was also published. Both documents contain examples, definitions of medical conditions, and exemplar record documents and flowcharts useful to parents and schools. These documents did not, however, have any statutory force.
Although the above advice is now withdrawn, and LAs do not have to have regard to it, the documents nevertheless contain useful advice that schools may wish to continue to consider.
See an example policy for Islington schools.
The 'Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions'guidance asks schools to put Individual Healthcare Plans in place to provide clarity about what needs to be done and by whom. The guidance suggests these plans will be essential where there is high risk, and ‘likely to be helpful in the majority of other cases’, but acknowledges that not all children with medical needs will require one. It is for the school, healthcare professional and parent to agree whether such a plan is appropriate or disproportionate. There is no prescribed format for the plan, but schools might want to consider including any of the following that may be relevant to that child:
- The medical condition, triggers, signs, symptoms and treatments
- The child’s resulting needs, including medication (side-affects and storage) and other treatments, dose, time, facilities, equipment, testing, dietary requirements and environmental issues e.g. crowded corridors, travel time between lessons
- Specific support for the child’s educational, social and emotional needs
- Any support needed (some children will be able to take responsibility for their own health needs), who will provide and any training needs
- Who in the school needs to be aware of the child’s condition
- Written permission for medication to be administered
- What to do in an emergency, including whom to contact, and contingency arrangements.