Parents have the prime responsibility for ensuring a child's health and for deciding whether they are fit to attend school. Parents should also provide all necessary information about their child's medical needs.
School staff have no legal obligation to administer medicines to pupils nor supervise them while they take medicines, unless contracted to do so. Staff may volunteer to assist in administering medicines but must be given appropriate training and guidance. The headteacher should certify that staff are qualified to administer the medicine or other care.
Schools have a duty, however, to plan how administering medicines in school or on educational visits can be arranged, in order to enable pupils to attend school. There must be a school policy that supports the taking of medication. This is usually done in consultation with the parents and the school's medical adviser. Parents must have access to the policy, probably through the school's normal information channels.
Medicines should usually be administered at home and only taken to school when absolutely necessary, where it would be detrimental to the child's health if the medicine was not taken during the school day. Schools should accept into the school only medicines prescribed by a medical practitioner, which are contained in the original container and include the original instructions for administration.
A pupil requiring medication should be allocated to a nominated member of staff, who should ensure that the medicine is stored in a locked cupboard away from children, oversee the actual taking of the medicine in the correct dosage, and record the time and details of the medication. Some schools allow certain pupils to take their own medication, such as asthma inhalers. Such provision should be part of the school's policy.
Some schools also make a practice of getting a written indemnity from the parent in favour of the teacher.
Chris Lowe, Former headteacher, trade union adviser and chief editor of QGP.