School operations


Communication — an ongoing conversation

Diabetes management requires a daily regimen that is clear, flexible and adaptable to reflect each student’s changing needs. For this to occur, regular communication is critical between students, parents or carers, school staff and diabetes treating teams.

The student health support planning process creates an opportunity for the school, parent or carer and student to discuss and document agreed strategies and supports.

One useful tool is a communication book, used by the family and school to communicate daily variations to health support needs or document the care a young person has received while at school.

Families may have concerns about how their child will fit into and be cared for at school and this anxiety may appear as frustration. For information on managing conflict and reaching resolution see the Department’s policy on Parent Complaints.

For more information, refer to ‘Talking to families’ or download an example ‘Diabetes Communication Book’ from Mastering Diabetes in Schools and Early Childhood Settings.External Link

Summary of communication roles

The below information summarises the communication roles of those involved in supporting a student with type 1 diabetes:

Role of the student (if age appropriate):

  • participate in the student health support planning process
  • talk to parents or carers and school staff about any issues with their treatment
  • decide if and what they want to tell their friends and classmates about their diabetes

Role of the parents or carers:

  • inform the school of their child’s condition at enrolment or as soon as possible after diagnosis
  • advocate for their child’s support at school and help school staff understand how type 1 diabetes affects learning and inclusion
  • meet regularly with Responsible Staff to discuss upcoming milestones, events and transitions that may affect the day-to-day management. These meetings are complementary to the provision of the Diabetes Management PlanExternal Link and Action PlanExternal Link
  • provide the school with a signed Diabetes Management Plan and Diabetes Action Plan and work with Responsible Staff to develop the Student Health Support PlanExternal Link
  • ensure the school has details for alternative emergency contacts for when parents or carers cannot be reached as part of the Diabetes Action Plan and understand that schools may call 000 in these circumstances
  • notify the school if the child is experiencing changes or challenges with managing their diabetes
  • discuss changes to the child’s diabetes management with the diabetes treating team and, where applicable, provide an updated and signed Diabetes Management Plan and Diabetes Action Plan to the school as soon as possible after changes have been made
  • participate in discussions regarding the child’s care and support at school where issues arise

Role of the principal:

  • identify staff willing to be a Responsible Staff member
  • nominate and support a staff member who agrees to be the first point of call for parents or carers and students to discuss type 1 diabetes support arrangements at the school (this is usually a Responsible Staff member)
  • facilitate discussions between the student, their parents or carers and Responsible Staff to ensure they understand the support required and that this is documented in the Diabetes Management Plan and Diabetes Action Plan
  • work with parents or carers and Responsible Staff to develop a Student Health Support Plan
  • facilitate or mediate communication between students, parents or carers and school staff. Where issues arise, support families and staff to find a solution
  • add diabetes information to the student’s CASES21 record

Role of responsible staff:

  • ensure they understand the Diabetes Management Plan and Diabetes Action Plan
  • work with parents or carers and the student to develop, review, update and implement a Student Health Support Plan to assist with managing the student’s type 1 diabetes while at school
  • if required, contact the student’s diabetes treating team to clarify information in the Diabetes Management Plans and Diabetes Action Plans, with parental or carer consent

Role of diabetes treating team:

  • provide information and advice on safe and effective diabetes management to students, parent or /carers and school staff
  • clarify information and instructions with schools in Diabetes Management Plans and Diabetes Action Plans with parent or carer consent as required

Communication Strategies

The below information illustrates how effective communication can assist with clarifying roles and expectations to support the individual student’s needs:

Objective: Parent, student and school expectations are matched

Example 1

At the beginning of each year the parent meets with her son’s homeroom teacher, the year level coordinator and the first aid officer to ensure they are aware he has type 1 diabetes, even though he is self-managing. This provides an opportunity for staff who will be regularly involved with the student to ask questions about his treatment and to allay any apprehensions they may have about his diabetes management. Discussions are positive and focus on ways of providing support to the student if and when he requires help.

Example 2

A secondary school student has a twice-daily insulin injection regime and does not want other students to know he has type 1 diabetes. To help with this, his parents have worked closely with teaching staff to ensure he is supported, protected and included. They have also reminded staff to be mindful of what they say around other students and ensure that he is included in all activities.

Guidance chapter in the Diabetes Guidelines on communication strategies and roles in supporting students with diabetes

Reviewed 19 January 2021

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