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Children with diabetes at school

Back to school – Tips for a seamless start


For children with diabetes and their parents, getting ready for a new school year involves a lot more than the typical back-to-school preparation of backpacks, books and calculators.

The start of school is an emotional time for everyone, and many parents are understandably concerned when their child starts or returns to school after being diagnosed with diabetes.

A team effort as children with diabetes head back to school

Back to school preparations involve planning, and most families will have an appointment scheduled with their hospital diabetes care team (principally the diabetes educator) prior to the commencement of the new school year to create and confirm a school diabetes care plan.

Aspects of diabetes care covered in the care plan include:

  • insulin delivery details,
  • blood glucose monitoring times,
  • dietary requirements,
  • details on hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia management,
  • other considerations relating to sport/exercise,
  • extracurricular activities or exams depending on the age of the child.

The care plan also outlines contact information for parents/carers and the child's diabetes educator.

Separate and distinct care plans are required for school camps to cover the overnight and extra activities that the camping experience encompasses.

Off to a good start

At the start of the school year, parents must ensure that teaching staff are given a copy of the care plan and other appropriate information to support their child's diabetes management during school hours.

It is recommended that parents make an appointment with the class teacher and other supporting staff to discuss the content of the care plan.

Parents are responsible for ensuring all the equipment needed by the school is supplied to the school (all clearly named) and re-stocked when needed, for example:

  • blood glucose meter,
  • blood glucose strips,
  • lancet device,
  • spare insulin delivery supplies.

This also includes a 'hypo' kit, and providing more than one kit is encouraged to ensure there is one kept at various locations around the school.

What about the 'hypo' kit?

The 'hypo' kit could be a clearly named lunch box, with a lid containing sufficient quick acting glucose and follow-up carbohydrates as outlined in the child's care plan.

A small list of contents can act as a prompt, allowing teachers to know when re-stocking is needed.

Providing support to a child with diabetes

To ensure full participation in all areas of the school curriculum, schools are responsible for ensuring relevant teachers and supporting school staff are appropriately trained to confidently provide support to a child with diabetes.

This involves not only having knowledge about type 1 diabetes, but importantly knowing the details of a child's diabetes care plan so that they may confidently follow care plan instructions.

Schools may also be required to provide equipment such as sharps containers for the safe disposal of sharps and disposable gloves for staff who are assisting with blood glucose monitoring.

Throughout the year, good communication between relevant teaching staff and parents is important reassurance for the child that their teachers are well informed about their diabetes management, enabling the child to feel safer at school.

Education sessions for schools and child care facilities

Diabetes SA conducts an information education session for staff in schools and pre-schools to provide an opportunity for enhancing their knowledge and increasing their confidence in supporting the day to day experience of young people with type 1 diabetes in their care.

Click here to find out more.

Additional information