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Administering medicines to pupils in schools

Guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) discusses the issue of schools administering medicine to pupils. It states that maintained schools and academies should not give children under the age of 16 prescribed or non-prescribed medicines without the written consent of the pupil’s parents, unless there are exceptional circumstances whereby a child has been prescribed medicine without their parents knowing. Schools are also responsible for defining the circumstances in which pupils are administered non-prescription medicines. They should not administer pain relief medication without checking when any previous doses were taken, as well as maximum dosages. Parents should also be informed that their child was given the medicine.

Obtaining consent

When a child starts at a school, permission can be sought for the school to administer non-prescription medicine to the pupil if needed. Permission should last for the duration of a child’s time at that school, and it may also cover medicines such as paracetamol.

When seeking this consent, which is often in effect until it is withdrawn, it is important that schools ensure the request form makes it clear that the consent lasts for the duration of the pupil’s time at the school. A school should also be mindful that a child’s circumstances could change over time.

Over-the-counter medicines

Over-the-counter medicines, such as cough or cold remedies or hay fever tablets, bought without a prescription, should be handled in the same way as prescription medicines, and only accepted in exceptional circumstances. It is important that staff check that in the past the medication was administered without the child suffering from any adverse effects, and that the pupil’s parents have confirmed this. It is also worth schools checking with their local authorities as to whether there is a policy in place on administering non-prescription medication.

Requesting consent for administering medicines

In 2005, ‘Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings, government guidance produced by the Department for Education and Skills (a precursor to the Department for Education) and the Department of Health, was published. The guidance contains two template forms requesting consent from parents for schools to administer medicine. The guidance can be viewed at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/http://education.gov.uk/publications/eorderingdownload/managing_medicines_nov_07_version.pdf

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