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Allergies and High School

(15 Posts)
littlemisschaffinch Fri 20-Jul-18 16:17:09

My DD starts high school in September and has severe allergies to eggs and peanuts which she has needed an epipen for since she was a toddler. We informed them about this at her time of enrolment several months ago, but at her more recent transition evening, the information we had given about it hadn't been put on her registration form. I asked about this at the time, but was told there was no one available to speak to about it; I have tried emailing and phoning several times over the last few months but haven't really got anywhere. I never get past the secretary, who informed me at the beginning of this week that we have been passed over to the school nurse - who has not yet been in touch and whose number they didn't give me.

I wanted to know whether she will be able to have lunches there and whether it will be her or the school who will hold her epipen. But I'm now also concerned that they aren't fully acknowledging the severity of her allergies. The school is closed now for the summer and I'm worried I won't get this sorted before she starts at the school in September.

Has anyone else experienced similar to this? As her condition is life-threatening, I would have expected a bit more clarity and support from them about how they would manage this - am I expecting too much? Or should I be concerned that this isn't the right school for her?

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noblegiraffe Fri 20-Jul-18 16:35:06

I’m sorry, this must be really worrying and not a great start to the new school.

At secondary students are generally expected to manage their allergies themselves, so they would carry their own epipens, check food labels etc. I guess you can send her in with a packed lunch until you get a clear answer about the canteen food?

Do you know who her form tutor and head of year will be? They’ll be in school for INSET before the pupils so you could drop them an email at the end of August asking them to make sure that the relevant info is shared with her teachers and request a phone call from the school nurse?

littlemisschaffinch Fri 20-Jul-18 17:01:23

Thanks noblegiraffe. DD is good at managing her condition because she's grown up with it - she's really good at checking ingredients and knowing what she can and can't have so at least we won't worry about her managing it, although she's never had to carry her epipen herself before. Her peanut allergy is very severe and can potentially be triggered by contact as well as eating so we were hoping to find out from the school how they would deal with that.

We probably will have to send her in with a packed lunch to start with but she was keen to be able to eat in the main dinner hall with her friends - it's frustrating that after weeks of asking what we think is a straightforward question, that they haven't given us an answer!

There is an INSET the day before she is due to start there but we don't have contact information for anyone other than for reception who have never put us through to anyone else, and if we do get a call back, it's only ever from the secretary passing on a message.

Very frustrating!!

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TheThirdOfHerName Fri 20-Jul-18 17:20:24

At the secondary school where I worked for the past 2 years, pupils at risk of anaphylaxis are advised to carry two adrenaline auto-injectors with them, in keeping with current guidelines. If there's a school trip off-site, they can only attend if they're carrying two. Many also carry oral antihistamines with them.

If their doctor is willing to prescribe more than two, then we are happy to keep spares in an unlocked cupboard in the medical room, but the school grounds are large, and the Y7 form rooms are at the far side of the site. We also store chlorphenamine syrup and two emergency EpiPens which can be used on any young person over 30kg who has been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector.

All staff receive training once a year in how to recognise anaphylaxis and how to administer an adrenaline auto-injector.

A list of pupils with severe allergies (including photos) is circulated to all staff at the beginning of each academic year and updated in between if required.

The canteen sells a couple of items containing nuts (e.g. a pot of yogurt topped with granola). These are clearly labelled.

TheThirdOfHerName Fri 20-Jul-18 17:24:30

whether it will be her or the school who will hold her epipen

Unless the school is tiny (one building) I would insist that she be allowed to carry two EpiPens with her. If she develops an anaphylactic reaction, the time taken for someone to fetch them from somewhere else on the school site could be several minutes.

user1471530109 Fri 20-Jul-18 17:39:28

I would also insist she carries her EpiPen.

Can I suggest you also ask if staff are trained? I have recently moved schools and I am shocked at the difference in awareness and training in the 2 schools. Previous school was shit hot on allergies and we had EpiPen training every year. Everyone was v aware on allergies and symptoms to look out for.

New school, no such training (TBf drawer kids with severe allergies). Also, our chief diet adiwr is v blasé about it all. I've had 3 kids have a reaction in 12 months. None of these allergies were stated on their records. TBf because the kid's parents hadn't declared them as they too were v relaxed about it! I've seen students in anaphylaxis and I am shocked and pissed off at being put in this position.

Kick up a stink. Phone on 3rd September and follow up with an email. The school will have one for general stuff and asknit to be passed on to the nurse and form tutor aswell as head of house. Make sure it is v clear how severe it is and offer to get her Dr or consultant to back this up.

Hope you DD has a lovely summer and is looking forward to her new adventure.

user1471530109 Fri 20-Jul-18 17:42:37

So many typos. I hope it makes sense or you get the gist!

littlemisschaffinch Fri 20-Jul-18 17:44:22

Thank you all. It's good to hear how well some schools deal with allergies, but also worrying that they are not all so great at it. Is it normal/acceptable for a high school not have sorted this by July and be leaving it to September for anything to be in place despite my frequent contacts with them? I don't know if I'm worrying unnecessarily.

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CraftyGin Fri 20-Jul-18 17:47:05

At my school, students who need emergency medication have a Tupperware box at reception with Epipensl Piriton, inhalers, etc. They are never more than a minute away from their medication.

As a Science Teacher, I occasionally ask for asthmatics to bring their inhalers to the lesson, but I am also reassured that we have them a few steps away in school also.

I have always worked with the standard that secondary aged students carry their own Epipens and inhalers, with a backup in school along with Piriton.

If they needed to use their Epipen, they would need their own device, followed up with the back up held in school.

forale Fri 20-Jul-18 18:12:35

I'm the same but no egg allergy but severe asthma instead. At school, they didn't provide in terms of canteen food, I had to ask if there were nuts and just trust them. I had packed lunches for the majority of time and it might be better for your daughter to just have packed lunches. I also kept my epipens on me, the school should have their own but it's not assigned to a particular pupil.

However, every teacher I had was made aware but my mum had to make a big fuss about it until this happened. I think you'll have to fight a bit to get them to realise that this is very serious.

When you get hold of them I'd also ask about food tech lessons if they provide them. We were often encouraged to bring in our own recipes and ingredients which could be dangerous for her and other pupils need to be made aware.

It will all be okay I'm sure and I can understand how worrying it is. I think you've just got to keep making a fuss when it reopens and make sure your daughter knows how to use her epipen ( can easily be forgotten if not used it in a long time). I'm sorry they're being so bad with it.

forale Fri 20-Jul-18 18:16:24

Also, if I can suggest it, I'd go in there on the Inset day. Tell them you've been trying to get hold of someone since __ and because it's so serious you need it to be sorted out then and there. The reception will be open I'm sure and they'll have to deal with you as your there

Usuallytootiredbuthappyanyway Fri 20-Jul-18 18:35:57

I think you need to kick up a bit of a stink. Not in a negative way but you do need to make yourself known if they aren't taking it seriously. I have already been provided with a list of student allergies for incoming year 7 students (I oversee Food tech. so it is essential for forward planning). In my school epipens are kept with Matron but we would prefer students to carry a second one themselves. We also have photos posted of students with allergies in the staffroom right by the tea/coffee so people see them often! We had a nurse in to give a whole school epipen training this term but I think that was the first time in a few years. If you are willing to pay for extra epipens they can be kept wherever you like. We had a student a few years ago who had one kept in every classroom that he frequented. I can't remember offhand what his allergy was but it was airborne and very difficult to eliminate.

littlemisschaffinch Sat 21-Jul-18 07:25:44

Thank you everyone. I will keep on trying to get it sorted...

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handmademitlove Mon 23-Jul-18 18:49:07

Contact the school nursing team for your area and ask them about it. They will know how well the school as deal with epipens / allergies. They should be around over the summer. Also should be able to advise regarding food tech.

littlemisschaffinch Mon 23-Jul-18 19:24:39

Thank you. I found a number for the school nurse today and I'm waiting for someone to call me back. Hopefully they will be able to sort it. Thanks.

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