Health, safety, and wellbeing
Health and safety
Medicines and allergies
Schools will usually ask for medical information when you enrol. This includes information about your allergies. It’s important to provide this as soon as possible. Tell them:
- what you’re allergic to
- what the school should do (the ‘first aid response’) if you have an allergic reaction
- what medications you take
- emergency contact details
- your doctor’s contact details.
Your parents or guardians might want to meet with staff to explain the information further.
Does the school have to give me my prescribed medication?
Usually, yes. The school has a responsibility to support you to safely take medication that you need. The school should have a policy about this. You must be allowed to take prescribed medication during school hours if you need it to access your education. For example, if you need to take insulin throughout the day.
It’s reasonable for the school to require written permission from parents or guardians before they will agree to providing a student with medication. They should make a plan that addresses things like how to store the medication, when it needs to be taken and which staff members can provide the medication.
A particular teacher has the right to choose whether they want the responsibility of administering medication. For example, they might not have the right training to help a student safely.
If you’re old enough, you might be able to take the medication yourself. Parents or guardians still need to give written permission.
Life threatening situations
If you have an existing medical condition, it’s a good idea for you and your whānau to plan how to manage an emergency in your health care plan. For example, by deciding who will be responsible for making decisions or providing first aid.
There is no general duty to save a life in the law. However, if someone has taken on the responsibility for doing something, like providing medical treatment, that person is obliged to do what they have agreed to.
The person doesn’t have to explicitly say they take responsibility, instead it might be shown by their action. For example, if a student starts having a life-threatening asthma attack, and a teacher runs to get their inhaler, the court might say that the teacher has a legal duty to administer the inhaler.
How should medicines be stored at school?
Check product instructions. For example, the product instructions for Ritalin, an ADHD medication, recommends keeping it out of reach of children by storing it in a locked cupboard at least one-and-a-half metres above the ground.
I was hurt in an accident at school – does the school keep a record of this?
Yes. The school must keep a register and record any accidents that result in harm (or might have resulted in harm) to anyone in the school. If you were given first aid treatment, the school also needs to record this.
If someone is seriously harmed, the school must also notify WorkSafe and complete a written report.
I have a food allergy – should my school ban all foods with the allergen in them?
Food bans are not recommended by Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) and Allergy NZ.
Instead, TKI recommends four key strategies:
- Recognise and respond to allergic reactions – Have an allergy action plan. Make sure the school has comprehensive information about your allergy, including what you are allergic to, the appropriate first aid response and medications, and emergency contact details (including your doctor’s contact details).
- Develop and implement health and safety policies and procedures – educate staff about allergies, anaphylaxis and how to identify them. Train staff for an emergency response (including using EpiPens). Make sure school policies are well communicated.
- Create inclusive systems – Make sure you and you whānau are involved when allergy policies are being reviewed. Teach classmates about allergies and how to support you.
- Create inclusive learning environment – practical strategies like making sure food and drink bottles are clearly labelled, teachers being aware of areas with high pollen count and grasses when planning outdoor activities.
Banning food should only happen if it has been recommended by a medical specialist.
For more information, go to www.inclusive.tki.org.nz and search “allergies and learning”
School trips and education outside the classroom (EOTC)
When do I need permission to go on school trips?
It depends on the activity. Your parents or guardians should be told in writing about any activities that happen outside school. Schools might not need permission every time – it could be enough to put a notice in the newsletter or send a letter home.
Whether you need written permission depends on:
- the duration – is it one hour, one day or one week?
- the location – on school grounds, in the local community or overseas?
- whether it is in school hours or goes beyond them
- the risk involved.
For example, if it’s a short activity in the local community during school hours, in a low risk environment – like a library or art gallery – you might not need permission from your parents or guardians.
Schools might ask parents and guardians to sign a blanket consent form to give you permission to go to all low risk activities throughout the year.
For activities that extend outside of school hours or involve higher risk, the school should get a signed parental consent form you.
If your parent or guardian does not consent, the school shouldn’t take you on the activity.
Examples of activities and the kind of consent that might be needed:
|Activity||Duration||Location||School hours||Environmental risk||Consent needed?|
|Painting a mural at school||One hour||School grounds||Yes||Low||No|
|Visit to local library||2 hours||Local community||Yes||Low||Not usually, or blanket consent|
|Visit to local beach||3 hours||Local community||Yes||Medium||Blanket or separate|
|Day hike in local bush||6 hours||Wider region||No||Medium||Blanket or separate|
|School camp||3 days||Wider region||No||Medium||Separate consent|
|Overseas sports tournament||2 weeks||Overseas||No||High||Separate consent and risk disclosure|
This guide shows the level of consent a school might expect to seek, based on guidelines by the Ministry of Education. However, whether consent is needed will depend on other factors too. If you have any issue, contact the school or the Student Rights Service on 0800 499 488.
What is a “risk disclosure” form for a school camp?
Usually a “risk disclosure” form will outline that there are possible dangers involved in an activity. A risk disclosure form will usually ask your guardians to fill out contact details for your doctor and emergency contact. It might also say what the school is doing to manage risks.
Parents and guardians may be asked to sign a risk disclosure form for high-risk activities on a school camp. This is good practice and is only intended to let parents and whānau know about the risks involved in the activity. It does not remove the school’s responsibility to keep you safe.
Police checks for volunteering at school
The Ministry of Education recommends that schools choose volunteers (like parents helping out on school camp) carefully. Schools can choose to have volunteers police vetted, although they aren’t legally required to.
Schools are also allowed to make a police check a condition of volunteering.