Briefing: Complex healthcare needs in schools

Author: Children's and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland
Category: Children affected by substance misuse

27th July 2016

The Commissioner's office has produced a briefing alongside work with the Scottish Government and other partners to develop new guidance around the issue of meeting healthcare needs in schools. A consultation on the draft guidance will be carried out over the summer.

The Scottish Government is currently reviewing its guidance on meeting healthcare needs in schools. The guidance covers:

- giving children and young people the medicines they need while at school;
- performing simple medical procedures at school.

The Commissioner's briefing outlines what they think the new guidance should include.

Briefing summary

The number of schoolchildren with complex medical needs has grown since 2001, as more premature babies and children with serious medical conditions survive to school age, and conditions such as type 1 diabetes are diagnosed earlier in children's lives.

Children have a right to have their medical needs met at school, but meeting these needs can be challenging. However, schools are expected to provide medical care to children of a level a parent or guardian would.

Research conducted by the Commissioner's office has shown that children's needs aren't always met in school, and children have missed school because of a failure to meet their healthcare needs. In our research, one in ten school staff members reported being unable to respond to a request for administration of medication.

Children's Rights and Healthcare Needs

A number of articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are relevant to meeting healthcare needs in schools:

- Article 3 says that the best interests of children should be considered when decisions are made that affect them.

- Article 12 says that children have the right to a say in decisions made about them and for their views to be taken into account.

- Article 23 says that children who have any kind of disability have particular rights. They have the right to special care and support so that they can live full and independent lives. Not all children who have healthcare needs at school will be disabled, but many will be.

- Article 24 says that children have the right to the best quality healthcare.

- Article 28 and Article 29 say that all children have the right to the best education possible to develop their personalities, talents and abilities to the fullest.