First of all, thank you very much for your willingness to support the children with Type 1 diabetes – your engagement, support and inclusive approach is crucial for their mental, social and cognitive development. We are aware it might not be easy for you to accept all the demands and requests from parents/carers. The more you understand how challenging it is for parents/carers to leave their children with diabetes under the care of others, and the more parents understand what is feasible and doable on your side, the more likely parents and school staff will reach a mutual agreement
The most important thing for parents/carers is to trust that their child will be safe and in good hands. Thanks to the great self-management tools (glucose monitoring, insulin pumps etc) available now, the risk of severe complications – although still exists – is low. The key to keeping the pupil with diabetes safe is to support them in diabetes management and take action in the event of a high or a low blood glucose level. When levels are not in range, pupils may behave differently and their well-being may be affected. The knowledge of how and when to take action is necessary to maintain the child’s safety. Teachers, who spend time with the child with diabetes, will be educated by the parents on what is needed for diabetes management during school.
Even if the blood glucose levels will not be all the time “in range”, the benefits for children to attend school and take part in all the school activities are priceless. School is very important for their development, mental well-being, social skills, resilience, and independence – in diabetes management too. Children must learn how to manage their condition, and school time gives them this great opportunity in a safe, supervised environment. And they will learn, from their own mistakes too – they just need your (teachers, school staff, SNA’s) supervision.
From the mental well-being perspective, pupils with diabetes at schools should be able to:
- Be safe: if younger, they should have received support from teachers/SNA’s, if older should be allowed to control their diabetes and react whenever necessary e.g taking time out to treat a low blood glucose level etc.
- Have opportunity to do diabetes-related tasks discretely, if they wish, or during the class in the classroom, depending on their preference.
- Be able to take part in all school activities including school events, school trips, tournaments (although it might require some preparations) etc. and be treated equally as their healthy peers.
- Expect the teacher’s support in case of discrimination, bullying or conflict (which rarely occurs), in particular, if it is associated with diabetes.
- Pupils with diabetes have the right to experience school life in the same way as their peers without diabetes.