Many children suffer from allergies and the symptoms of which are mild, however at some point every school is likely to have at least one pupil who is severely allergic to a type of food or, some other anaphylaxis trigger.
The common causes of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) include foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, sesame seeds and kiwi fruit, although many other foods have been known to trigger anaphylaxis. Peanut allergy is particularly common – with one in 70 children nationwide thought to be affected.
Non-food causes of anaphylaxis include wasp or bee stings, natural latex (rubber) and certain drugs such as penicillin.
Most severe forms of allergy are manageable with the vast majority of the children affected happily accommodated in mainstream schools thanks to effective communication between parents, school staff, doctors and education authorities.
A request for advice and guidance on the risk management of allergies and risk of anaphylaxis in schools was triggered by the reporting of recent inquest findings by Senior Coroner Mary Hassell in regards to how Perkins C of E High School managed the risks of pupils allergies & anaphylaxis following the inquest into the death of 13 year old schoolboy Karanbir Singh Cheema in 2017. The London schoolboy had a cheese square thrown at him which landed on his neck and triggered a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), as a consequence of which the child later died.
The Coroner had stated that the school could be blamed for two contributory factors, namely that “…there was a missed opportunity by Karanbir’s school to raise awareness among their pupils of the grave nature of his allergies and the care that needed to be taken to avoid his contact with allergens.” However it was noted that there were other significant failings by other parties that were at least, if not more instrumental in the outcome. These being;
Guidance and advice provided therefore focussed on the need for schools to ensure they have a management system in place that;
Specific guidance on anaphylaxis and its management in schools is available from the NHS and the ongoing Anaphylaxis Campaign website schools pages;