Children & Families Bill
About the Children and Families Bill
Right now, thousands of children affected by anaphylaxis aren?t getting the right care and provision needed at school, including emergency care plans, medications and understanding of their condition and needs.
Along with several other charities representing those living with long term health conditions, we’re fighting for change.
Since September 2014, every school in England are now required by law to make sure children with long-term health conditions get the care they need at school. Read more about the campaign and updates below:
- February 2014
- October 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- February 2013
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.
New guidance for schools
Following a campaign by the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance in Schools in which the Anaphylaxis Campaign plays a key role, from September 2014, 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, which 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:
- An IHP which is agreed by the child, parents, healthcare professionals and the school. This will set out the child?s individual needs including medication, signs and symptoms and the named person who will provide necessary support.
- Management of medications and who is responsible for this. This would include, for example, whether the child would carry their own adrenalin injector.
- Agreed arrangements for dealing with emergencies and what defines an emergency
- Enabling the child to take part fully in school, including day trips, residential visits and sporting activities.
What support does the governing body have to provide for school staff?
- Appropriate training for staff caring for children with medical needs.
- Ensuring that all staff are aware of the school?s medical conditions policy and that they have an understanding of each medical condition affecting children in the school
- Ensuring trained and competent staff members are protected legally should an allegation of negligence be made. Policies should also set out details of the school?s insurance arrangements.
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:
- The role of the head teacher is crucial and we believe this is made clear in the guidance. It is very likely the head teacher will guide the support for allergic children so we are encouraged to see this being noted.
- The child?s voice is essential. The guidance makes it clear children should be listened to and involved in deciding what support they need and what should be in their IHP.
- The Government have included a list of practises they have stated are unacceptable. These include excluding children from any part of school life.
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:
- Every child with a medical condition MUST have an Individual Care Plan. Currently the guidance states that not every child will need a plan (question 4b).
- The role of specialist allergy nurses must be explained to schools as we recognise that school nurses may not always have the expertise or time to consult on the individual needs of the child. It is also important for the guidance to outline what parents and schools should do if specialist nurses or schools nurses are not available (question 5)
- There is a need to audit the school?s policies on a regular basis and it would make sense for the school governors to be responsible for this. This needs to be stated in the document (question 2 and 3).
- Not all children will be responsible enough to carry their own adrenalin injector but we welcome the inclusion of the section that allows this if appropriate (question 7). It is important to note that if a child is not able to carry their own injectors an alternative will be provided.
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.
You can read the transcript of the debate here.
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:
- Lord Storey (00.42.45) introduced his amendments (221-223). Baroness Howe of Idilcote (00.59.00) and Lord Kennedy (01.01.21) both discussed the problems children and parents faced and mentioned several issues they would welcome reassurance on.
- Baroness Howath of Breckland (01.08.12) offered her support and talked about children with heart conditions while Lord Patel (01.09.57) focused on training and checked cancer would be included as a long-term condition.
- Baroness Brinton (01.13.37) mentioned some of the conversations she?d had with people at our briefing event while Baroness Benjamin (01.22.05) talked about children with sickle cell.
- Baroness Young (01.27.38) expressed what she would like to see in the guidance and asked for more information on how the government will make sure schools fulfil their duties. Baroness Jones (01.51.40), on the Labour frontbench, also demanded more detail.
- In response Lord Nash (02.02.25) explained why he thought the duty was necessary and agreed that he would meet with the NHS to discuss Peers? concerns that without a duty to co-operate that some schools would not be able to access the training their staff will need.
Second Reading of the Lords debate
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 head teacher, 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.
Thanks for your support!
THIS STAGE HAS NOW CLOSED. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST UPDATE.
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.
Thanks for your support!
THIS STAGE HAS NOW CLOSED. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST UPDATE.
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.
Find your MP.
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:
- Schools are required to produce and implement medical conditions policies.
- School inspections look at how a school supports children with health conditions and what outcomes those children have, as part of well-being indicators.
- All school staff are enabled to support children with health conditions through appropriate training and support.
- NHS bodies and local authorities have a statutory requirement to help schools fulfil their responsibilities.
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.