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School and diabetes

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Diabetes management at preschool and school

Preparing for your child with diabetes to return back to school after diagnosis can be a very stressful experience for families. 

Careful planning and open, regular and ongoing communication between parents and school staff will assist in making this transition back to school a positive experience for everybody involved.

School staff may not always have a clear understanding of what diabetes is or what the specific care requirements are to manage diabetes within the school environment. However with the help and support of you and the diabetes team, school staff will become skilled and confident in caring for your child at school.

Before returning to school

Prior to your child returning to school it is recommended that you organise a meeting with the key staff. Key staff may include any of the following:

In some cases the diabetes nurse educator/ specialist may also attend to provide extra support with education.

Some important points to cover at this meeting include:

Starship Child Health have developed a video that is aimed at schools, to increase their knowledge and understanding of diabetes. If you would like school staff to watch the video, you can share this with them via this link: ( 

School action/ management plan

All children/young people attending school should have a school action and management plan.

A school action and management plan is an agreed written plan between the family, diabetes team and the school outlining:

The management plan should be reviewed annually or whenever a significant change to the treatment plan has occurred.

Download one of the school action and management plans here.


On the first day of school you need to make sure that you have supplied the school with everything they need to safely manage your child's diabetes at school. The location of where these supplies are kept should be clearly written in the school management plan.

The school will need the following supplies:

It is helpful to have a plan in place that identifies who at school is responsible for making sure there are enough supplies and that parents are notified to replace any expired items.

You can read a  transcript of this video here.

Continue to work with the school

Parents and teachers need to continue to work together to ensure the school environment remains safe.

A system to communicate what's going on at home (for example parents letting school staff know when the blood glucose levels are not stable) and at school (for example where the school let parents know that they are identifying trends in the blood glucose levels during school hours) should be set up.

This type of communication is useful to help keep both parties in the loop and identify issues that may need addressing.

Some ways of communicating may include:

Additional planning

Diabetes shouldn't stop a child from being involved in all parts of school life; however there are some activities which require a little extra planning.


Special conditions for young people living with type 1 diabetes sitting NCEA or Cambridge examinations should be negotiated with the school at the beginning of each academic year. A 'specialist medical report' for each young person confirming special requirements must be submitted to NZQA by the school early each academic year.

See more information about diabetes and exams including medical reports.


Physical activity usually lowers the blood glucose level. The drop in blood glucose level can be immediate or as much as 12-24hrs later.
Extra testing and carbohydrate may be required before moderate or strenuous exercise.

The school management plan should include a plan for what is required during planned sport activities.

It is also helpful if the school is able to let you know in advance of planned sports or changes to school activities.
See more information about management of exercise.

Day trips/ Overnight stays or camps

A key person who will have responsibility for the management of the child/young person's diabetes whilst on the trip or camp should be identified. This can be a parent or carer or a member of school staff.

Ensure that all supplies are available such as testing equipment, hypo treatment, extra food or snacks in case of delays, insulin or pump supplies as appropriate and emergency contact numbers. Always take extra hypo supplies.

Children attending camps or active trips require early and careful planning prior to camp. A separate camp plan should be discussed.
There is often a significant reduction in insulin required for camps or active trips. Your diabetes team can support you with any adjustments that need to be made.

See more information about management of exercise.

Further resources and support

School seminars

Starship service run School Seminars at Greenlane Clinical Centre to support non -medical school staff with the care required for children at preschool or school. See flyer with available dates for the year.

Public health nurse/ School nurse/ School councillor

The public health nurse/school nurse or school councillor can provide a great first point of contact for support of a child/ young person at school.

School nurses are generally only available in high schools however other valuable resource person at primary school is the Special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCO) who have overall responsibility for ensuring that children with special educational needs at school receive the support they need.

Diabetes Nurses

The Diabetes Nurses are available for further support as required

High Health funding

High health funding is provided by the Ministry of Education to assist with teacher aid time to support children with significant health conditions. Eligibility for the allocation of this type of funding is dependent on strict Ministry of Health criteria. Not all children with type 1 diabetes meet this criteria however some children who have other health needs e.g. autism may be eligible for funding. Please liaise with the diabetes team if you feel you child has high health needs (See further information).

Ministry of Education

Links to the information on supporting students in schools with health conditions:

Think you've got it sorted now?

If you have read through the information above and feel confident that you understand this topic, print off and fill in the evaluation form below (you might need to ask someone to print this off for you) and return to the nurse on your ward. If you have any questions, note them down on this form and your diabetes nurse specialist will discuss them with you.

School and Diabetes: Evaluation

School and diabetes evaluation

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