Please advice re school refusing to accommodate severe food allergy(19 Posts)
Hi there, I'd really appreciate some advice - my dn started in reception at her local state primary in September 2014 - her parents are very happy with the school apart from a serious issue concerning their dd's dietary needs. She is severely allergic to nuts and eggs and is also dairy\wheat\gluten intolerant. The school says that they can't provide for her - I think she is on free school meals - surely the school has an obligation to accommodate this? Doe this not come under special needs of some kind? Many thanks in advance.
Sorry - I meant to say please advise not please "advice"!
Does she have an official diagnosis and care plan? If so then yes, they should be able to provide a suitable meal, but in my experience it can take time to get it sorted out especially if the meals come from an external supplier. The school's SENCO would be my first port of call.
This won't be popular but I don't blame the school.
If food is such an issue then they should send her in with something they have prepared. If one of my kids couldn't eat something I wouldn't leave it to other people to deal with.
Might be worth posting this on the Allergies board where you'll find lots of people who've had to deal with this kind of issue.
I think if my child had allergies and foods they could not eat, I would rather prepare their lunch myself.
The school has a duty of care to the pupil and has to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate special needs of pupils. As such if there is clear medical evidence of the issues the school should be taking note and doing something about it.
That is not necessarily about proving appropriate food. In this situation I would probably want to provide own lunch box to ensure no issues however as an infant they are entitled to a free school meal and the school must provide something appropriate. The school should be making provision so that pupil is not put in a situation where they could be sensitive to something from others, no matter who provides the lunch.
The school response of "they can't provide for her" seems to be a euphemism for we would rather they went to a different school as it is too much hassle for the school. That should not be accepted.
Ok yes the school and caterers SHOULD be accommodating all children and their problems but personally I would just make a packed lunch. That way I would know they were given something suitable. There are loads of children who are entitled to free school meals but for one reason or another can't have them (our school can't administer medication which is required after hot meals so one of mine can't have them - the food is horrible anyway though so the other one won't eat it). I don't blame the school and yes I could probably force them to find a way to do it or go in myself every day after lunch if I wasn't working but I don't see that it is worth it. My child has the health problems she has and we have to deal with it.
the gluten/wheat intolerance is easy to provide for.
nuts are out anyway in all schools so this allergy is covered in lunches.
egg and dairy will be where the problem lies.
Out of curiosity what does she eat? literally plain meat/fish/potatoes/veg/salad/fruit? I am used to dealing with coeliac requirements but not dairy/egg ones.
My son is intolerant to dairy and soya and I had to meet with the headteacher and county catering manager before he started in reception to discuss his food requirements. County are used to having food issues so they came up with a list that the catering manager could implement from that weeks menu choices for the rest of school. We needed a gps letter stating he was intolerant.
I'd suggest you get a meeting with the headteacher, to request a meeting with the foodsupplier to discuss further
DS was on gluten and dairy free for a while and I did just provide the food without thinking, even the toast for snack time. The provisions the school make can just be that they allow her to bring her own food and make sure she doesn't come into contact with any food she's allergic to.
This is classed as reasonable adjustment and it's because of things like some children requiring quite expensive equipment, the schools aren't expected to provide these but are expected to be trained in them and make allowances for them to be used in terms of space and storage.
But no, schools aren't generally made to buy in the specialist stuff, be it food or equipment, because it costs way too much and could get ridiculous.
I know it's expensive to buy in food like this and especially if they're on low income anyway it'll be hard, but it's the same with wheelchairs and glasses and ear defenders and chewing toys etc.
Thank you all for your responses - I don't think I am in possession of the full facts so can't really answer the responses that relate to bringing in a packed lunch - as some of you have pointed out, this would be the obvious (and more desirable) solution. I do know that the parents did meet with school and the catering manager and seemed to have worked out a plan but it seems that they are now backtracking without any explanation. I will talk about your responses with the parents to see if I can shed any more light on why they are not providing packed lunches. I will also go on the allergies forum (thank you MegBusset for suggesting this as I was unaware there was such a forum). Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts. xx
If the school said they would provide meals then backtracked that might be why the parents are annoyed and not wanting to provide packed lunches because they were promised hot dinners and prepared their DD for that
Being on FSM should not be a problem for getting appropriate food as there are options for getting allergy-friendly food on prescription from the GP.
Agree a packed lunch is best protection for needs!
When I looked at this a few years ago (about 5ish) when my then gluten intolerant dd was due to start school. Gluten free seamed to be one they don't have to provide in school legally. This may of changed now. I went in and looked at the ingredients in some of the food they cooked and most had hidden flour in.
I suspect if they are backtracking they have found it is more expensive to cook for the her and or they are finding it harder than they thought. I probably takes one person away from cooking the rest of the meals for a lot of the normal cooking time. There would be very little if anything they could buy in.
There is a gap in the market for someone to set up a company to make ready meals for children on with allergies.
I expect you are right about expense and I'd add possibly concern about contamination from the rest of the cooking. If you take out the nut allergy and replace it with a soya allergy, my niece had this exact combination of allergies/intolerances. A cooked meal is actually the easiest thing to provide. As a pp said it's meat/fish/veg/fruit. It's breakfast and packed lunches that get a bit tricky.
Our daughter also has dairy/nuts allergies and eczema. She was able to bring home packed lunches at the previous state school, so her eczema was well under control. However, when she went to a private school, she had to eat school lunches as that was the school's (NGHS) and their Trust's (GDST) policy. The catering manager said he would cater for our daughter's allergies, but all he did was removed certain foods from set meals, without any replacements. So our daughter ended up eating substandard meals. Also, she was accidentally given butter on at least one occasion, and we found the school margarine contained butter milk. We suspected there was other food cross contamination as well.
Our daughter's eczema went from mild to severe within two terms, and still the HT refused to allow her to bring home packed lunched even when we presented her with a long letter from our GP. Many excused were given to us, but the real reason was probably because the school didn't want our daughter to set a precedence, and extra staff would be needed to supervise children not eating school lunches.
Our daughter now goes to a state school and she can bring home packed lunches again. Her eczema reduced rapidly and it's mild again. She is so much happier now, without painful sores and itchy eczema all over her body.
If your dn's food allergy is severe, then her parents much take full control of what she eats, with strict home packed lunches. Otherwise it's a real nightmare if her allergies ever get out of control.
my child has a life long condition which resulted in him having intolerances an allergy, school promised that they could work round it, my child who needs a high protein diet written by his dietician gave him a plain jacket potatoes an salad, both my self an child are a lot happier since I started pack lunches whilst yes they should provide a free lunch sometimes it not worth the headache of trying to get it right x
If my child had severe allergies there is no way I'd let them be catered for by the school kitchen!
As a teacher, I get to see how often the meals served to the children are not what are advertised on the weekly menu on the school website.
I have had children in my class who are known to the kitchen staff and whose pictures are on the wall with their severe fish allergy listed, being served Tuna for lunch!
It was only when he started getting red and blotchy on the carpet (5 years old so not the most reliable) that we managed to find out what he had eaten and then medicate him.
IME even though everyone receives training, the kitchen staff often rely on the child to know and tell them what they can or can't eat. When they are 4 and 5, these children are pretty unreliable and in a school with 600 pupils there just isn't the time to check each and every one.
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