New guidelines help schools support children with Type 1 diabetes

The guidelines have been developed with the support of parents and diabetes experts to provide additional support to schools.

Raising awareness

Diabetic child at school

Anna Taranto from Epping says her son's school has guidelines in place, nurses and a space for him to give himself insulin.

'He's not afraid or shy about it, it's been great,' Anna says. 'It's been positive for us. I would hope that for most kids, it should be the same.'

But Mt Eliza mother Shannon says it hasn't always been easy for her three children, all with Type 1 diabetes.

Children with diabetes have to monitor their blood glucose levels several times a day and inject insulin to provide for their body's changing glucose needs. Low blood glucose levels can lead to hypoglycaemic attacks which can progress to being severe if not treated. High blood glucose levels can make children fatigued, thirsty and need more bathroom breaks.

Shannon says that these symptoms can be 'disruptive' to their concentration and learning. Both parents and teachers will benefit from the new guidelines on how to support them.

'I took it upon myself to give [my son's teacher] information about type 1 diabetes and about his insulin pumps,' Shannon says.

'They need support in many ways throughout the day. Young kids may need assistance with checking their blood levels, some kids just need reminding or supervision.'

Plus, Shannon says more education around diabetes can improve social impacts.

'Sometimes the kids feel that diabetes is a hassle, to get their blood testing equipment out with eyes looking at them,' Shannon says.

'That's why the new guidelines are so important - they help kids and teachers to learn about Type 1 diabetes and to be understanding.'

Schools and anyone interested in learning more about diabetes in schools can see the guidelines on the Diabetes page.

Diabetes education for everyone

Anna says she hopes the guidelines will give children with diabetes a better experience at school.

'I feel it's a positive step to getting that to be more consistent across the board,' Anna says. 'There's plenty of kids being diagnosed, toddlers to primary school, and I would hope that they benefit from this.'

Anna says school parents can learn from the guidelines too when children want to play together.

'More people are beginning to understand,' she says. 'Hopefully they'll want to know what they can do – what food to give, what to do when something happens.'

The guidelines will help schools meet their legal and policy obligations, know how to work together with families and the diabetes treating team and provide practical advice on communication, staff training, implementing treatment plans, and making reasonable adjustments to keep students with diabetes engaged at school.

Online education package

Diabetes Victoria, and the Royal Children's and Monash Children's hospitals also collaborated to create the Diabetes at school online education package, available to all school staff and parents for free.

For more information, contact the Health Advice and Policy Unit at health.advice@edumail.vic.gov.au