There are not many occasions in life where I will walk out of the house wearing a bright blue, round neck T-shirt.
Even less so, than when I will walk out of the house wearing the same t-shirt as my eleven year old daughter.
But today – both of those things are happening.
And blue is not my colour.
But a wardrobe nightmare is well worth todays cause.
Today I am showing my daughter that change is important, and sometimes you need to act to make change happen.
We are going to the House’s of Parliament, to lobby our MP to help put pressure on Ofsted and Department of Education to raise awareness of the duty on schools and their responsibilities to children with medical conditions.
To give you some background.
In 2014 – the government amended the Children and Families Act 2014 to include a duty on schools in England to support children with medical conditions, however, research has found that only a teeny, tiny, 11.5% of schools are demonstrating that they are following their duty correctly.
That is the legal line.
Let me tell you the parental line,
My daughter is 11. She is a baby, whilst looking like a teenager.
She has managed a condition over the last 5 years that has hospitalised her, exhausted her, made her grow up before her time, controlled her every meal, dominated sport and has involved over 10,000 injections.
At home, whilst we don’t live life in the shadow of Type 1, it has to be consulted at all times, thought about and managed, day and night. It is a unpredicatable bastard of a condition, whose true demonic quality lies in the fact that if good sugar control isn’t maintained at all times, then Type 1 kids can face a complicated adult future.
As a parent, I need to know my child is safe in school, that she has a the support system in place, a communication system, a care plan, an inclusion policy and an understanding network.
I don’t need her babysitting, but I need the understanding. I don’t require round the clock care, but I need comprehension that more planning will be required for events other students can take for granted.
My daughter deserves access to the education as everyone else, and that means an understanding in schools that tests sat with blood sugars of 16 plus will not show her true ability. That a lesson taught to her with blood sugars of 3.6 will not be learnt. I need to know that, god forbid, if a horrendous hypo in school occurs, the teachers can recognise the signs and manage it immediately.
Our primary schools were amazing, secondary school has been a steep learning curve. September was a month that involved me crying into my pillow at night. October showed a marked improvement, I am hoping by November, everything will be in place for my daughter to manage her chronic condition with full support from school and she will be 100% safe in school.
1 in 1o schools currently can produce a adequate medical conditions policy. This effects not only the kids with Type 1, but over 1 million children with long-term medical conditions, including epilepsy, coeliac, asthma, cancer and many others.
Without policies guiding staff on what to do, mistakes are more common, kids are less safe and children with medical conditions are at an unfair disadvantage to their classmates.
Why we are lobbying
Today I will walk into Parliament, clutching my daughter’s hand, proud as punch that she is by my side.
Together we will ask our MP to help us have Ofsted to tell their inspectors to routinely check schools medical conditions policies as part of their inspections. Currently there are examples of schools with “good” or “outstanding” Ofsted ratings who don’t have appropriate medical conditions policies in place.
We will ask that the Department of Education change their guidance and ensure all schools publish their medical conditions policies on their website. then we will ask them to help schools understand what they need to do.
Put simply The Department of Education has a responsibility to keep kids safe.
If we don’t ask, if we don’t lobby, if we don’t push for change – then we are accepting that without the means to manage a medical condition in school, our kids may have serious long or short-term consequences.
If we don’t ask, we are agreeing that it is right that more and more kids with long-term chronic conditions are developing mental health complications.
If we don’t push, we are saying it is right that sometimes kids with medical conditions are excluded from after school clubs, trips away, and sporting activities.
Because – it isn’t right, or fair,
Today I will wear blue, bright blue and dress as my eleven year old does.
Because we want change, we want a better future, I want a fair education, and I don’t want to fight for it.
And we will rock the look!