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Managing medicines in schools

Pupils with medical needs
Some pupils will have medical conditions that require support so that they can attend school regularly and take part in school activities. Schools and their employers should have policies on managing pupils' medicines and on supporting pupils with medical needs. See managing medicines in schools and early years settings below for further information.

Some children may be unable to attend school because of their medical condition and where this happens there should be arrangements in place to ensure the continuation of their education. See access to education for children and young people with medical needs below for further information.

Managing medicines in schools and early years settings
It is for schools and their employers to develop their policies on the management and administration of pupils' medicines and putting in place systems for supporting individual pupils with medical needs.

Managing medicines in schools and early years settings (DfES/Department of Health, 2005) provides advice for schools and their employers to help in the development of such policies. It explains the roles and responsibilities of employers, parents and carers, governing bodies, head teachers, teachers and other staff and of local health services. It considers staffing-issues including employment of staff, insurance and training. Other issues covered include drawing up a health-care plan for a pupil, confidentiality, record keeping, the storage, access and disposal of medicines, home to school transport, and on-site and off-site activities. It also provides general information on the four most common conditions — asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and anaphylaxis. The document also contains a set of forms which can be photocopied by users — downloadable versions of these forms are available here.

NB This document replaces the DfEE/DH 1996 document Supporting Pupils with medical needs: A good practice guide and Circular 14/96 Supporting pupils with medical needs in school.

Access to education for children and young people with medical needs
Where children are unable to attend school because of their medical needs, local authorities should have arrangements in place to ensure the continuation of their education. For further information and guidance see the Sick children website.

Other information on health conditions
The following voluntary organisations have produced information and resources for schools:


  • The Anaphylaxis Campaign website contains Guidance for schools, which discusses anaphylaxis, treatment, setting up a protocol, and support for pupils and staff. It also includes a sample protocol. The Anaphylaxis Campaign Helpline is 01252 542 029. The Anaphylaxis Campaign has also published the Allergy in schools website which has specific advice for pre-schools, schools, school caterers, parents, students and nurses.


  • Asthma UK has a downloadable school policy guide that provides information on asthma, asthma in PE and sports, and what to do when a child with asthma joins the class. It provides comprehensive information on how to develop a school asthma policy and asthma register, with an example. Also available are school asthma cards and information and posters for young people to encourage them to be active with their asthma. To order copies of these resources call 020 7786 5000. To answer any questions about asthma call the Asthma UK Adviceline on 08457 01 02 03 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or use the online form to email your query to the experts.  


  • Diabetes UK has information on diabetes in school, which discusses insulin injections, diet, snacks, hypoglycaemia reaction and how to treat it. It contains a downloadable version of their school pack, Children with diabetes at school — What all staff need to know. Copies of this can also be ordered from Diabetes UK Distribution, telephone 0800 585 088. Further information is available from Diabetes UK Care line, telephone 0845 120 2960 (Monday — Friday, 9a.m.-5p.m.) or see the Diabetes UK website for an enquiry form.


  • The National Eczema Society has produced an activity pack, available on TeacherNet, to encourage discussion about eczema in the classroom. The pack follows a lesson plan format and ties in with the National Curriculum and is tailored according to age group.  


  • Epilepsy Action (British Epilepsy Association) has information for schools in Epilepsy — A teacher's guide. This looks at classroom first aid, emergency care, medication and school activities. For further information is available from the freephone helpline on 0808 800 5050 (Monday-Thursday, 9am-4.30pm, Friday 9a.m.-4p.m.) or use the email enquiry form.
  • The National Society for Epilepsy (NSE) has information on education and epilepsy which looks at epilepsy and learning, special needs, examinations, practical activities, medication, the Disability Discrimination Act, and teaching pupils with epilepsy. Contact the UK Epilepsy helpline, telephone 01494 601 400 (Monday-Friday 10a.m.-4p.m.).

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