Creating A Safe Environment For Children With Diabetes At School

Creating A Safe Environment For Children With Diabetes At School

It is important to work closely with school staff to create a safe environment for your child with diabetes. A diabetes healthcare provider will generally work with your child or teen, your family and teachers.

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Key points to remember about creating a safe environment for children with diabetes at school

  • children with diabetes go to early childhood education and school and participate in all normal educational and social activities
  • every child living with diabetes has specific needs
  • it is important to work closely with school staff to create a safe environment for your child or teen with diabetes

How is diabetes managed at early childhood education and school?

Children with diabetes go to early childhood education and school and participate in all normal educational and social activities.

A diabetes healthcare provider will generally work with your child or teen, your family and teachers. This is so school and early childhood staff know about the safe management of diabetes and can involve your child fully in education based activities without discrimination.

You might like to share a 30 minute video with staff at your child's school. The Starship diabetes team developed it especially for school staff, to increase their knowledge and understanding of diabetes. It's available on the Starship website.

Watch the video - taking diabetes to school

Diabetes action and management plans for early childhood education and school

It is important to recognise that every child living with diabetes has specific needs. The 'Clinical Network for Children and Young People's Diabetes Services' has developed a collection of school action and management plans. These aim to support families in creating a safe environment at school for diabetes care. Families need to complete the plans with the support of their local diabetes treating team before sharing them with relevant school staff.

The Starship website has action and management plans for early childhood education, primary and secondary schools.

See all the action and management plans 

What are some other diabetes resources for schools?

As well as an action and management plan, there are other resources which should be available to your child's school.

School resource flip chart

This is available from Diabetes Youth New Zealand and covers the following topics:

  • introduction
  • what is diabetes?
  • high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia)
  • low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia)
  • treatment of a mild to moderate 'hypo'
  • treatment of a severe 'hypo'
  • food and diabetes
  • camps
  • exercise and diabetes
  • diabetes treatment at school/exams
  • family, other topics and student's services

Hypo pack

This includes items that would be used in the event of a 'hypo' or low blood sugar episode and clear instructions on how to administer. Items could include glucose tablets, juice drinks as well as carbohydrate snacks.

How can we create a safe environment for my child with diabetes at school?

It is important for families to work closely with school staff to create a safe environment for diabetes. Parents need to arrange a meeting with the school as early as possible to discuss the action and management plan and associated care requirements.

Important points to cover with school staff

Completing management plans

It's best for families and whānau to complete management plans with school staff. There is a lot of online and written material to help support school and early childhood education staff. If needed, healthcare professionals can help with planning. But, whānau know their child or teen best and should be the main contact.

Wearing medical identification

Children with diabetes should always wear medical identification (such as a wrist band or bracelet) at school.

Testing glucose levels and injecting insulin

It's very important to allow children with diabetes to:

  • test their glucose levels in the classroom if they wish
  • inject insulin in public if they wish 

It's also important to offer them privacy to do either of these if they prefer.

When there are symptoms of hypo

Never leave children with type 1 diabetes alone when they are having symptoms of hypo.

Don't prevent them from eating or drinking to treat or prevent a hypo.

Exams

There are special conditions for young people living with type 1 diabetes sitting NCEA or Cambridge examinations. Negotiate these with your child's school at the beginning of each academic year. Your young person's school needs to submit a 'specialist medical report' to NZQA, early each academic year, for each young person. This report confirms the special requirements for students with diabetes.

Check the Starship website for information about young people with diabetes and exams.

Go to the bottom of the Starship page for information about exams and diabetes

Acknowledgements

The content on this page has been produced in collaboration with the National Clinical Network for Children and Young People's Diabetes Services.

This page last reviewed 01 December 2021.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it