If your child with allergies is about to start a new school there are a few things that need to be in place. Heading off in their first school uniform into reception is such an exciting, momentous event 🙂 However life can be complicated, living with anaphylaxis is stressful, and starting a new school creates a lot of anxiety. So here’s some info I learnt the hard way – to help you approach September with a calm, prepared mind. This post looks at: 1 ) Allergy Action Plan 2) Safe & Inclusive Lunch 3) Uniform!
The key thing any new school needs to ensure they can look after your child is an allergy action plan. I highly recommend the one which the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) have created. Your hospital can download it and fill it in. If you don’t have an appointment with your allergy clinic between now and the start of term you can download it yourself from the BSACI – you just need to click the parent box and then chose whichever allergy action plan is relevant. We use Jext Pens so use this one. I stuck a photo of Aars on it and filled in the relevant details. These allergy plans are so simple, clear and concise, perfect for anaphylaxis sufferers. These need to be in place before your child is left in the schools care. I had gone through the rigmarole of filling in forms and informing Aars first school about allergies and anaphylaxis. However they had not done everything on their end so his first day at school was a bit of an anti-climax as they would not let me leave! I was very blessed to see him and his friends enjoy their first day – but it was not what I had planned or hoped for. Happily work was very understanding. (Aars starts secondary school in September and I have still not heard from the school nurse so I have emailed her today – I don’t think me being present on his first day in year 7 would be as acceptable as being there for day one of reception was) You may need to chase up your new school too!
The second thing any new school needs to consider is a safe but inclusive eating situation for your child. Aars has had so many food allergies that he has always had packed lunches. His first infant school did not accommodate him and he was sat in a huge dining hall surrounded by children eating foods he could not come into contact with. He was constantly coming home with pustules where the child next to him had splattered yoghurt on his skin and the school had failed to clean or dress the blisters. It took months of steroid cream to get rid of them.
His last school were far better – he sat in a classroom with a small group of friends his age, who also had packed lunches and understood the severity of his allergies. Aars always sat at the end of the table so there was some space between him and the others incase of accidents. There was one incident when he first joined the school of children trying to put cheese on his skin as they did not believe he was allergic – but his friends who had been at infant school with him, protected him and told both the teachers and myself. It was dealt with immediately, (severely) and effectively – not another issue is the remaining 4 years there. His head teacher insists that Aars benefits by being surrounded by friends who know and understand the severity of his allergies.
Aars has always had tin lunch-boxes – it means nothing can get in and contaminate his food which is also in sealed bags/containers.
Until I had Aaron I did not know about anaphylaxis. Until Aaron started school I did not know that shops put teflon and other weird stuff on their school uniforms to make them “easy-iron”. Aars managed to wear “normal” M&S uniform for 2 days – then I was called in to collect him as he his skin was bleeding and he was a mess. Thus began the nightmare hunt for 100% cotton, difficult to iron trousers and shirts which looked like school uniform. His first school HATED the fact Aars’ wasn’t wearing the same teflon trousers and it was difficult from day 2! I took in samples of grey trousers for approval – too dark, too light, too many pockets, pockets too big, seams too obvious, too skinny, too wide… It was a nightmare! His second school was far more interested in his academic and personal development than his uniform so it became far less stressful. If you’re struggling for uniform looking clothes for boys GAP are fab, as were H&M (now they have a uniform range it’s less good!), Vertbaudet were good too. I have to say that these experiences have coloured our choice in secondary school – we have found one which understands and isn’t gonna go bonkers over uniform.
I hope that helps a bit! Here’s to all the prep going well, so it can be as smooth a transition as possible, so you can be confident your child is in safe hands.
Peace and smiles, Rai x
This is a link to my post on why Aars & his school learnt the international distress signal S.O.S when he was in Infant School. Now he’s in a huge secondary school he carries a personal alarm which is horrifically loud and has a flashing light on it too!