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4 min read

How to Support Students with Asthma in School Effectively.

Manage asthma in school

Asthma is one of the most common conditions in schools, and with over 86% of students forgetting to take their inhalers when they may have needed them, schools must know how to prepare for and support asthmatic learners (and staff) effectively. Whether you are an ECT, experienced teacher or support staff member, helping a child with asthma will be an eventuality when administering first aid in the workplace.

This article explores the responsibilities of schools and parents and how to ensure your school is prepared to support this potentially life-threatening condition. 


Responsibility for Managing Asthma: Who Does What?  

It can be confusing to know each person’s role in ensuring your school is prepared for an asthma attack, especially when the pupils are in secondary school and take personal responsibility for their medication. With the DfE’s statutory guidance on supporting pupils with medical conditions, we have collated all the information you need to know. 


Governors Headteachers and SENDCos and Responsibilities with Asthma 

  • Check that the school has a suitable policy for students with medical conditions (this should be personalised to the school and the needs of the students rather than generic). 
  • Monitor the number of staff qualified to deliver first aid 
  • Promote a whole-school culture of risk-of-harm awareness
  • Include a student’s asthma condition in an Individual Healthcare Plan if appropriate
  • Have records of first aid incidents (extending to online first aid software)


School Staff Responsibilities with Asthma Support

  • To be aware of the process when managing an asthma attack 
  • To know which students are asthmatic and their triggers 
  • Confidently be able to support a pupil through an asthma attack 
  • Admin team to ensure parental contact information is up to date
  • Notify parents when a child has used their inhaler throughout the school day 
  • To collect responses from parents about emergency inhaler consent 
  • To monitor expiring inhaler medication 


Parents' Responsibilities with Their Child’s Asthma

  • Inform the school of any use of inhalers (both short and long-term use)
  • Supply the school with an in-date inhaler
  • Monitor expiry dates of medication and replace when necessary 
  • Authorise the use of an emergency inhaler 
  • Provide the school with an inhaler spacer if used by the child


 Student’s Responsibilities Around Asthma

It is always beneficial for students to have confidence in managing their health conditions like asthma. With over 86% of people living with asthma sharing that they have been without their inhaler at a time of need, this can increase the dangers in secondary school settings where students have more accountability. Students should build responsibility with age, reminding staff they are asthmatic and being cautious when participating in activities likely to trigger their asthma. 

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How to Manage Asthma in School and on School Trips

You and your staff team can take many precautions to be prepared to manage an asthma attack during external visits or during school time, reducing the risk of harm and making the school a safe place for students to learn. 


Know the Location of an Inhaler

During the school day, inhalers should be kept in an accessible place; this information should also be shared with supply staff through the child’s one-page profile. Having the same-coloured inhaler box in each classroom can be useful, making it easy for the designated first aider to audit the accessibility in preparation for a first aid risk assessment. 

School trips can often include physical activity and can be a trigger for those who have exercise-induced asthma. The trip leader (or another designated adult accessible for the duration) must have all medication, including inhalers, on their person throughout the trip. A school first aid kit bum-bag can be helpful to be fully prepared on external visits. Other pupils should be aware of where the inhaler box, and emergency inhaler, are kept throughout the school day in case of emergency. 


First Aid Risk Assessment 

It is recommended that schools use a first aid risk assessment to help them audit and adapt their health and safety policy. Identifying cohorts with additional medical needs using an online medical tracking software can help to analyse the coverage of trained first-aid staff available to support. There may be school year groups where a higher number of pupils than average are Diabetic; running a simple insight report would highlight the need for additional CPD training for staff working with these pupils. A first aid audit across the school is a valuable task to help with the proactive management of health conditions such as asthma. The audit can look at the number of pupils with health concerns, the visibility and accessibility of inhaler boxes in classrooms, and staff knowledge on how to quickly manage an asthma attack. 


Filter Search Students with Asthma 

Access to life-saving information at the touch of a button is essential in an emergency. Online incident reporting and health management software, Medical Tracker, uses the filter search feature to highlight children diagnosed or flagged as asthmatic, helping staff who may not know information about all students (particularly at the beginning of an academic year). Also useful for wrap-around clubs that may include intense exercise as part of their daily offer, extending the communication for good practice across the school or Multi Academy Trust


Emergency Inhaler Available in School 

Schools are not obligated too but can have an emergency inhaler available; this inhaler can only be used for children with a diagnosis of asthma and with parental consent. As asthma can become an emergency without warning, it is recommended to have all parents complete an inhaler consent form on an annual basis. Storing all parent authorisations in one place can make this easier for staff members in a crisis. 

Do take care to monitor the expiry date of the school’s emergency inhaler; this can be done using Medical Tracker’s automatic expiration of medication warning notifications. 


How Can Medical Tracker Help Schools Manage Asthma Effectively? 

  • Track expiry of asthma medication automatic warning 
  • Online parent authorisation and consent for medication use
  • Filter search to identify those with asthma 
  • One-page profile for each child with medical concerns or conditions 
  • Incident reporting in schools can be used to monitor asthma attacks and triggers
  • Immediate parent notifications surrounding incident and actions taken 
  • Staff first aid qualifications tracked


Contact a member of our team to get a quote and book a demo to see how Medical Tracker can support your school or trust. 


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