Type 1 diabetes

Schools should be safe spaces for young people with diabetes

A new report by Diabetes Australia has brought together best practice guidelines to help schools safely support and supervise children with diabetes.

Drawing on overseas guidelines and piecing together policies and information from state and federal legislation, Diabetes in Schools provides a written framework for families and schools to work together in the best interests of children with diabetes.

Associate Professor Jane Holmes-Walker, a member of the report’s working party, told the limbic it was very important to develop national consensus on what was often a frustrating issue for families.

“The core business of schools is education but that also includes educating children with a disability or children with a chronic disease such as diabetes.”

“Diabetes shouldn’t stop a child from doing anything. They just require extra support,” she said.

Associate Professor Holmes-Walker, from the department of diabetes and endocrinology at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, said parents could confidently use the document when communicating with schools about their children’s needs.

The report includes practical tips for providing a safe and supportive environment – for example, ensuring children have easy access to their diabetes equipment or to food, especially during sport.

She said parents had to recognise that teachers might not do things exactly the same way as they would, as long as schools were providing a safe environment and appropriate supervision.

“We need teachers who can recognise when a child’s behaviour is not normal and know to check their blood sugar level. We skill up parents and young people to manage diabetes so we can skill up teachers who are willing to take responsibility in this area,” she said.

“We have the support and back up of diabetes educators and nurses in some schools, but we can train teachers to recognise a hypoglycemic event which even teenagers with diabetes sometimes don’t recognise.”

“We also need understanding that diabetes can impact a child’s concentration and performance and that they might need up to an hour to recuperate after a severe hypoglycaemic event,” she said.

You can access the framework here.


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