It’s that time of year again, when families are in the middle of applying for their child’s school place. Starting school comes with many emotions; excitement, anxiety and apprehension, which are compounded further if a child has a skin condition such as eczema.
Yes, eczema is a common skin condition that affects one in five children and is often trivialised by many. For children and their families, they may experience negative comments or behaviours when they start school, so it's important that they start planning with the school and health care professionals sooner rather than later to ensure a smooth transition to school life.
National guidance states 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 at school with medical conditions and 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 (Department of Education 2015).
For many, it is difficult to appreciate the impact eczema has on the quality of everyday life, and the time and effort required to keep the eczema controlled. Over time, the children will need to learn how to care for their skin at school, but this takes time, can be challening and needs ongoing support from parents/carers and school staff to achieve.
The National Eczema Society also has an important role to play in the child's school journey and has developed a comprehsensive resource for families, teachers and health professionals to:
1. Help staff understand and meet the needs of the child with eczema at school.
2. Give advice on how staff can help a child with eczema integrate into their class/the school routine and gain confidence in managing their eczema.
3. Equip teachers with tools to teach their class about eczema, in order to encourage understanding and compassion among the child’s peers.
4. Form the basis of an informed, ongoing dialogue between teacher and parents/carers regarding the child’s condition.
The pack is free and available from here. It’s a win-win for the children, their families and the school teams. Children may also have other associated health needs at school, including asthma and allergies and further information is available for these conditions.
Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions. Statutory guidance for governing bodies of maintained schools and proprietors of academies in England
Starting a new school: http://www.allergyuk.org/living-with-allergy/starting-school
Asthma at school and nursery: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/child/life/school/
Nurse Consultant Dermatology, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham
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