ISBA Launches New Allergy Policy, Code and Register for Schools with the Benedict Blythe Foundation and the Allergy Team
01 December 2023
The UK’s first code of practice, aimed at keeping pupils with allergies safer at school, has been launched by the Benedict Blythe Foundation, ISBA and the Allergy Team. The Benedict Blythe Foundation is an organisation founded in memory of five-year old Benedict Blythe who died following an allergic reaction at school, and it campaigns for inclusive and safe schools for pupils with allergies. Watch this short video clip to find out more.
On average, food allergies affect one or two children in every class of 30, but leading doctors have warned that the UK lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to managing allergies in school, leaving pupils at risk of life-threatening allergic reactions.
As the second anniversary of her son’s death approaches, Helen Blythe, founder of Benedict Blythe Foundation, said: “Too many children with allergies face unacceptable levels of risk at school, somewhere they should feel safe and protected. Since Benedict died, I have spoken to countless parents and carers whose children have suffered allergic reactions or near-misses at school. I hope this new Code will ensure schools interrogate their own processes, improve their understanding of allergies and know how to respond in an emergency.”
What is the Schools Allergy Code?
The Schools Allergy Code is a code of practice to help keep pupils with allergy safe. It covers awareness, emergency response protocol, training and policies. The Code and its associated checklist are free resources, and all schools are urged to adhere to the criteria laid out in the Code.
The Schools Allergy Register
Schools who want to demonstrate their commitment to good allergy management can apply to join a Register held by the Allergy Team. These schools will be assessed and awarded a trust mark if they meet the criteria set out in the Code. Families will be able to search for schools on the Register and have confidence that these schools meet the standards of allergy management set out in the Code. More information can be found here.
Sarah Knight, Founder of the Allergy Team, said: “Knowing that a school meets the criteria set out in the Schools Allergy Code will give parents huge confidence when choosing a school for a child with allergies. To join the Register and display the trust mark, schools will be assessed, this ensures they don’t just pay lip-service to the Code but put it into practice, with buy-in from the whole school community.”
John Murphie, COO of ISBA, added: “The Schools Allergy Code is a game-changer for safety in schools. We would urge all schools to adopt it and join the Register. Allergy is an often overlooked area of safeguarding and we need to give parents, pupils and staff greater confidence that schools really understand allergy and know how to reduce risk.”
ISBA has worked with the Allergy Team to publish a useful template allergy policy for ISBA member schools.
Food allergy facts
In 2017 alone, three children died following allergic reactions at school. In all these cases the coroner pointed out that there were failings in how the school responded.
Up to 8% of children in the UK have a food allergy. On average, most school classes in the UK will have one or two children with food allergy.
You can be allergic to any food and allergies can be outgrown or develop at any time in your life.
Up to 20% of anaphylaxis cases occur within school grounds and of these, one in four occurs in pupils not previously deemed at risk.
A US study found that 79% to 83% of severe food allergic reactions occurred in the classroom, not the dining room.
Children with food allergies are twice as likely to be bullied as those without.
Important note: Helen and Pete Blythe are waiting for a date for the inquest into their son’s death. At this stage, they do not know why Benedict died or fully understand the circumstances or events of that day. While they want to improve understanding of food allergies in schools and training for staff, it would be wrong to suggest any wrongdoing by Benedict’s school until all facts are known.