The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (March 2017) identifies the mandatory requirements for all early years providers in England (from 3 April 2017): maintained schools; non-maintained schools; independent schools; all providers on the Early Years Register; and all providers registered with an early years childminder agency. These include duties linked to promoting the good health of children attending the setting.
Section 100 of the Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on governing bodies of maintained schools, proprietors of academies and management committees of PRUs to make arrangements for supporting pupils at their school with medical conditions.
In meeting the duty, the governing body, proprietor or management committee must have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State under this section.
On 1 September 2014 a new duty came into force for governing bodies to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions. The statutory guidance in the document Supporting pupils in school with medical conditions (DfE, Dec 2015) is intended to help school governing bodies meet their legal responsibilities and sets out the arrangements they will be expected to make, based on good practice. The aim is to ensure that all children with medical conditions, in terms of both physical and mental health, are properly supported in school so that they can play a full and active role in school life, remain healthy and achieve their academic potential.
School/setting staff may be asked to perform the task of giving medication to children but they may not, however, be directed to do so. The administering of medicines in schools/settings is entirely voluntary and not a contractual duty unless expressly stipulated within an individual’s job description. In practice, many school/setting staff do volunteer. If a decision is made that medication is not going to be given, the school/setting will need to consider what other measures are to be taken when children have long term health conditions or otherwise need medication. These measures must not discriminate and must promote the good health of children. Policies must be made clear to parents. Further advice can be sought from your Trade Union or Professional Association.
Some children with medical needs are protected from discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995/Equality Act 2010.
The public sector Equality Duty, as set out in section 149 of the Equality Act, came into force on 5 April 2011, and replaced the Disability Equality Duty. Disability is a protected characteristic under section 6 of the Equality Act. The public sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have due regard in the exercise of their functions to the need to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not
- foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
Responsible bodies for schools must not discriminate against pupils in relation to their access to education and associated services. This covers all aspects of school life including: school trips, school clubs, and activities. School should make reasonable adjustments for disabled children including those with medical needs at different levels of school life; and for the individual disabled child in their practices, procedures and school policies.
Some pupils may also have special educational needs (SEN) and may have a statement, or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan which brings together health and social care needs, as well as their special educational provision. For pupils with SEN, this guidance should be read in conjunction with the Special educational needs and disability (SEND) code of practice. For pupils who have medical conditions that require EHC plans, compliance with the SEND code of practice will ensure compliance with the statutory elements of this guidance with respect to those pupils.
Please read these pages in conjunction with the national guidance
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers of 5 or more employees (including local authorities, governing bodies, management groups etc.) must have a Health and Safety policy. School Health and Safety policies should incorporate arrangements for managing the administration of medicines and supporting children with complex health needs. This will support schools and settings in developing their own operational policies and procedures. The policies can be based on the Corporate Health and Safety Policy. Appropriate risks assessments will need to be undertaken and should be included in the school’s H & S audit procedures.