Closed petition Allergy provision in school: Introduce Statutory Allergy Care legislation

Currently, there is no statutory legislation to govern school policies in regard to the care of children with life-threatening allergies. As a result, the provision of care in our schools is haphazard and inconsistent. This is shocking and risks the lives of vulnerable children every day.

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We are both parents of children with life-threatening allergies. Throughout our own children’s primary school years it has become apparent that there is a general lack of awareness and education with regards to allergy care in schools. This petition aims to put pressure on Parliament to pass legislation that will make an Allergy Care policy statutory for every school & to establish appropriate standards of medical training, education & care for children with anaphylaxis in our schools.

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

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Government responded

This response was given on 10 October 2019

The existing legislation plus statutory guidance is sufficient without need to legislate further. We will be working with allergy organisations on updating the current statutory guidance.

We consider the existing legislation combined with statutory guidance to be sufficient so do not feel it is necessary at this time to legislate further on schools’ response to pupils with allergies. We will be working with allergy organisations on schools’ support for these pupils.

It is important that schools provide high quality support for children with allergies, to help prevent exposure to allergens and to respond appropriately to any allergic reactions. Our approach, which combines legislation and statutory guidance, sets out a high expectation of schools whilst giving them the necessary flexibility in deciding how best to support their pupils with medical conditions.

We will be reviewing the medical conditions statutory guidance in 2020 with a view to publishing a new edition. As part of this process we will engage with allergy and anaphylaxis organisations.

Section 100 of the Children and Families Act 2014 already places a duty on governing bodies of maintained schools, proprietors of academy schools and alternative provision academies and management committees of pupil referral units to make arrangements to support pupils with any medical condition. These settings should have a policy to support pupils with medical conditions that is readily available to staff and parents. This policy should apply to any medical condition brought to the attention of the school by a pupil or parent, including allergies.

In making their arrangements to support pupils with medical conditions, schools must have regard to the Department’s statutory guidance, 'Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions', which makes clear our expectations:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions--3

The key expectations are that:
Pupils at school with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips and physical education;
Governing bodies must ensure that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils with medical conditions;
Governing bodies should ensure that school leaders consult health and social care professionals, pupils and parents to ensure that the needs of children with medical conditions are properly understood and effectively supported.

The guidance does not refer to any specific medical conditions: rather the approach is to seek to ensure that pupils with any medical condition are properly supported.

Local authorities and schools also have duties relating to the making of arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils (sections 175 of the Education Act 2002 and regulation 3 of and paragraph 7 of the Schedule to the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014).

This Government has changed the law so that, since 1 October 2017, all primary and secondary schools can buy adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) from a pharmacy, without a prescription, for use in emergencies. The Department of Health and Social Care issued guidance for schools on AAIs to accompany this change: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/using-emergency-adrenaline-auto-injectors-in-schools.

This guidance gives advice on:
How to recognise and respond to an anaphylactic shock;
How to use an AAI in schools;
How to reduce the risk of allergen exposure in children with food allergies;
Arrangements for the supply, storage, care and disposal of AAIs;
Useful links to further information.

We have also taken a number of other steps to reduce the risk of pupils suffering anaphylactic shock whilst at school, including:
Allergies being part of the new Health Education curriculum for all pupils in state funded schools, which will be mandatory from September 2020. Schools must have regard to the guidance we have issued, which sets out that pupils should be taught about the facts and science relating to allergies, immunisation and vaccination: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education;

Acting to prevent exposure to allergens in food. Allergen rules within the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011 became statutory from 13 December 2014. All food businesses, including school caterers, are required to make available the allergen ingredients information for the food and drink they serve.

We are looking to build on these actions to help schools with their support for pupils with allergies. To help identify the best way forward, officials will be working with a range of organisations with expertise in allergies and anaphylaxis.

Department for Education

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Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) met recently and considered the Government’s response to this petition. The Committee decided to request a revised response, which includes a more personal response to the issues faced by the petitioner.

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