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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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1.1 million children and young people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma. On average 3 children in every classroom in the UK has asthma.

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Causes of asthma

  • Asthma is a condition that affects the airways – these are the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.
  • When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways (an asthma trigger), the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower and the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell.
  • Sometimes sticky mucus or phlegm builds up which can further narrow the airways.
  • All these reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated - making it difficult to breath and leading to symptoms of asthma.

Symptoms of asthma

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest

Treatments for asthma

Although there is no cure for asthma, there are some very effective medicines available to help control it.

  • Everyone with asthma should have a reliever inhaler. Reliever inhalers are usually blue.
  • Relievers are medicines that are taken immediately to relieve asthma symptoms.
  • Some children will use a preventer inhalers. Preventer inhalers are usually brown, red or orange.
  • Preventers control the swelling and inflammation in the airways.

Supporting students with asthma

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  • Provide help and support for the safe use of prescribed medication. This is best agreed with the pupil and parent/carer and written into a healthcare plan.
  • Make sure medication is stored in an agreed safe place, and that parents / carers are informed when it’s getting low.
  • When going on school outings as part of the risk assessment ensure medication protocols are checked and implemented.


  • Physical activity, changes in the weather, dust and pollen can all trigger asthma.
  • Ensure known triggers are noted in a healthcare plan and that key staff are made aware.


  • Speak regularly to parents / carers to ensure that information held at school is accurate and up to date.
  • Set review dates for healthcare plans.
  • Ensure that supply/ cover teachers are made aware of asthma sufferers in their class.
  • Following a hospital admission or a period of absence from school check in to see if any changes need to be made to the healthcare plan.

More information

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)