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With the Lords’ report stages over, the Children and Families Bill, complete with duty on schools to support children with medical condition, took a step closer to becoming law this week.
Following a campaign by the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance in Schools in which the Anaphylaxis Campaign plays a key role, from September this year, every school in England will be required by law to make sure children with long-term health conditions get the care they need at school.
The statutory guidance sets out how young people with medical conditions such as allergy must be properly supported in schools so that they avoid being excluded from any area of school life. As we know, many children with allergic disease find they are unable to participate fully in school life and are often unable to do things such as attending school trips or eating with the rest of the class but now the Government has announced that schools will be legally required to support children with medical conditions properly. The rules that schools will have to follow are explained in this guidance.
The guidance is for schools’ governing bodies who must ensure arrangements are in place to provide the support children with health conditions need and will be in place from September 2014. In order to ensure schools are ready for this change they will need to have policies in place before the start of the 2014 academic year.
What does the guidance say?
Governing bodies must make sure that their schools have a policy for supporting children with medical needs in school and those children with a medical condition have an Individual Healthcare Plan (IHP). The policy has to meet their statutory responsibilities and what is in the policy has to be properly carried out.
Support for the child includes:
What support do the governing body have to provide for school staff?
What do we think?
The Anaphylaxis Campaign along with other charities represented by the Health in Schools Alliance has worked very closely with the Government on the draft for this guidance. We are pleased that this will place a statutory duty on school to support children with medical needs and are particularly positive about the following points:
We feel this guidance is extremely positive and are delighted the Government have made such a bold step forward for children with allergic disease. We do however think that there are three things that must be changed within the document to ensure we make the most effective guidance we can:
What can you do to help?
The Government has now put the draft guidance out for consultation and is asking for views from those for whom this guidance would be relevant.
To look at the full document and make a response, click here.
Please note: The consultation closes at 5pm on March 14th
The next steps
The next stage is the third and final reading in the Lords.
Following that, the Commons will need to check the changes to the Bill made by the House of Lords. This will of course include the new duty on schools but, as it was tabled by the Government this will not be problematic.
Then we enter the to and fro stage where the Lords and Commons hammer out their differences and finally agree on a finished Children and Families Bill (or if they don’t reach agreement the Commons push through their version). All this happens quite quickly. Then once it has royal assent it is law. We are presuming the legislative side of things will be done and dusted by mid-March.
On Monday 21st October 2013, the Government announced Lord Nash had tabled an amendment which will place a duty on schools to support children with health conditions.
On Wednesday 23rd, the Grand Committee stage of the Children and Families Bill finally reached the amendments around supporting children with health conditions.
Nine peers spoke in favour of duties on school. The whole debate can be viewed again online below:
Below is a guide of what was covered and the time of each Peer’s respective speech is in bracket:
In a marathon debate, which ran to almost six hours (!), the second reading of the Children and Families Bill in the House of Lords took place on Tuesday 2nd July.
The second reading is a chance for Peers to make clear what parts of a piece of a Bill they like and how they believe it should be improved.
There was a lot of concern about the government’s planned changes to adoption and fostering and a myriad of speakers concerned about changes to SEN. With so many speakers (almost 50) and so many different subjects there was a chance the issue of children with health conditions could get swamped. Fortunately it didn’t.
Lib Democrat Peer Lord Storey, an education expert and former headteacher, made the issue of children with health conditions the key theme of his speech, describing our amendment as “eminently sensible”.
So, there is a good deal of support for placing a duty on schools to provide the right support for health conditions. We also know the government has been unable to muster a suitable response to questions about how the current legislation fails to offer children with health conditions the protection they claim.
What next in the Lords?
The Committee Stage of the Children and Family Bill in the House of Lords will take place in early October. This will be line-by-line scrutiny of the Bill and amendments and any new clauses (including ours).
We are still hoping to do a briefing meeting in the House of Lords specifically on our clause. There was previously a lot of interest in children with health conditions in school.
More details will follow on this closer to the time.
The Children & Families Bill has now reached the Lords and will be voted on next week on Friday July 2nd 2013.
Take action and follow the next steps in getting children with allergies the care they need in schools. Ask the House of Lords to change legislation to support children with allergies in schools.
Currently there are no specific rules or requirements for schools to look after children with a health condition, like allergy. We believe there should be. The Anaphylaxis Campaign wants the Children and Families Bill to be strengthened to support children with health condition in schools.
So far with your help, a number of MPs have demanded better support for children with health conditions in the House of Commons. The Government now admits there is a problem but has not yet changed the Children and Families Bill.
The House of Lords will be voting on the Bill on July 2 and we need your help to persuade them to strengthen it.
We have picked out Lords who have a special interest in education and health. They are the key group we need to persuade that a change is needed. If you would like to write to any more, please let us know or please feel free to write to any additional Peers who are known to you personally.
You can write to them at:
The House of Lords
Or email them:
If you have had bad, good or variable experiences of care in schools, you should include your story in your letter or email. This is really powerful in persuading them of the need for change. When this was debated in the House of Commons last week, several MPs told your stories to show there was a need for change.
Don’t forget to send us the letters you send to the Lords, and any response you receive back.
The second reading of the Children and Families Bill is due on February 25th 2013 and the Anaphylaxis Campaign is calling for the Bill to be strengthened on the issue of support for children with health conditions in schools.
We want you to get involved by lobbying your Member of Parliament (MP). Send your MP this briefing either by email or post and ask him or her to support the addition of a statutory duty on schools when managing children with health conditions.
You can further help by going online to Children and Families Bill Public Reading: Additional Comments - UK Parliament and adding the following comments:
We feel that the Children and Families bill should be strengthened so that:
Don’t delay, act quickly as the second reading is next Monday 25th Feb and the closing date for comments online is Tuesday February 26th.