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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in children and young people in the UK, with around 29,000 living with the condition.

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Causes of diabetes

  • Diabetes is a condition where there is an imbalance between the insulin and the glucose in the human body.
  • There are two types of diabetes, type 1 which is insulin dependent and type 2 which is non insulin dependent. 
  • Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, enables cells to absorb glucose (sugar)  in order to turn it into energy.
  • Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to insulin.
  • This causes glucose to accumulate in the blood leading to various potential complications.

Symptoms of diabetes

  • Thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent urination

Symptoms more typical in children and young people

  • Stomach pains
  • Headaches
  • Behaviour problems

Treatments for diabetes

Type 1

  • Good diet and healthy eating
  • Regular exercise
  • Regular insulin injections
  • The overall aim is to maintain near normal blood sugars.

Type 2

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Take regular exercise
  • As type 2 diabetes can get progressively worse over time it may be necessary to take medication. (This will normally be in the form of tablets, but can sometimes require insulin injections.

Supporting students with diabetes

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  • An individual healthcare plan should be drawn up in consultation with the student, parent/carer and the medical professionals. 
  • Draw up a plan for administering insulin.
  • This should be agreed with parents/carers and the medical professionals.
  • The school nurse is an important part of the team. 


  • Help with managing diet and exercise may be useful.
  • This can be discussed as part of the individual healthcare plan. 
  • A student may need to test blood glucose levels before and after physical activity and have a snack if necessary.
  • If the activity is prolonged, they may need to test and/or have a snack during the lesson.
  • A sugary drink or glucose tablets kept nearby will be helpful if a student experiences a hypo.

School trips

  • It’s important that students are included in all aspects of school.
  • As part of the risk assessment consideration must be given to the management of insulin injections and the need to stick to established mealtimes.  

Managing a crisis at school

  • It is vital to identify a designated person trained to deal with a crisis.
  • The named and trained person should lead on the plan agreed and detailed in a student's individual healthcare plan (IHP).
  • This should detail what needs to be done in the case of a student experiencing high or low blood glucose count.
  • It should also detail when additional medical support is required.

More information

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)