Roles and responsibilities

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, schools have a legal duty to make arrangements for pupils with medical conditions (including those with food allergies). This requirement is supported by the statutory guidance Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions.

While the school’s governing body has ultimate responsibility for this, this is not the sole responsibility of one person. A school’s ability to provide effective support depends on a partnership between school staff, healthcare professionals, parent/guardians and pupils.

The following has been adapted from the statutory guidance Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions.

Parents

  • should provide the school with sufficient and up-to-date information about their child’s medical needs.
  • need to take responsibility for telling the school that their child is at risk of anaphylaxis
  • provide the school with an appropriate notification, which could be giving the school an Allergy Management Plan signed by a healthcare professional which includes parental consent for the treatment of an allergic reaction. Appropriate plans can be downloaded here.
  • should provide medicines according to the plan, and ensure they or another nominated adult are contactable at all times.

Pupils

  • are often best placed to provide information about how their allergies affect them.
  • should be fully involved in discussions about how to reduce their risk of an allergic reaction, and be empowered to take steps to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
  • Other pupils will often be sensitive to the needs of those with medical conditions.

Headteachers

  • should ensure that their school’s policy is developed and effectively implemented with partners. This includes ensuring that all staff are aware of the policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions and understand their role in its implementation. For food allergies, the policy should also include strategies to reduce the risk of allergic reactions
  • should ensure that all staff who need to know are aware of which pupils have food or other allergies and are at risk of anaphylaxis.
  • should ensure that sufficient trained numbers of staff are available to provide treatment to a pupil having an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.
  • have overall responsibility for the development of individual healthcare plans. They should also make sure that school staff are appropriately insured and are aware that they are insured to support pupils in this way.
  • should contact the school nursing service in the case of any child who has a medical condition that may require support at school, but who has not yet been brought to the attention of the school nurse.

ALL school staff should

  • be trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
  • understand the rapidity with which anaphylaxis can progress to a life-threatening reaction, and that anaphylaxis may occur with or without prior mild (e.g. skin) symptoms.
  • appreciate the need to administer adrenaline (using an AAI) without delay as soon as anaphylaxis occurs, before the patient might reach a state of collapse (after which it may be too late for the adrenaline to be effective).
  • be aware of the anaphylaxis policy.
  • be aware of how to check if a pupil is on the register.
  • be aware of how to access AAI devices in the school.
  • be aware of which staff members have received training to administer AAI, and how to access their help.

Designated members of staff who have volunteered to help a pupil use an AAI in an emergency should:

  • have received training on how to use AAIs, relevant to their level of responsibility.
  • be identified in the school’s medical conditions or allergy policy as someone to whom all members of staff may have recourse in an emergency.

Other healthcare professionals, including GPs and paediatricians

  • should provide parents with an appropriate Allergy Healthcare Plan for pupils at risk of anaphylaxis, to provide to the school. Appropriate plans can be downloaded here.
  • to consider a request to prescribe to a pupil at risk of anaphylaxis and appropriate number of adrenaline auto-injector devices, if a school makes a request for pupils’ own AAI(s) to be kept on school premises. Guidance relating to this can be found here.