School and Work

Information and advice for a parent or carer of a child living with allergy

Parent of a 12 to 17 year old

Starting secondary school is a huge transition for your child. Getting to and from school is now their own responsibility, along with navigating new school halls and making new lifelong friends.

No longer is there just one classroom with one teacher, so it’s important that students feel empowered to speak up and know how to access help and support if needed.

Key to this process is explaining their allergies and helping others to understand them. Reinforce to your child that they can help others learn about allergy and anaphylaxis and understand the effects it can have emotionally and in everyday life. Deciding who they tell about their allergies is likely to vary from person to person. But when it comes to telling teachers and those who care for your child, you need to make them aware that choosing to not diclose their conditions to school staff is not an option.

There are a few simple messages that your child can also tell their peers and fellow students. These include;

  • Always take allergies seriously, severe allergies are no joke.
  • It’s important to be respectful of medication needs.
  • Making sure friends know what they are allergic to and the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction is important in their friendships.  This is because friends may need to know how to get help immediately in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Being able to make safe food choices and not feeling pressured to eat foods helps them feel comfortable in their friendships, and that means they may also not share foods.

Dealing with peer pressure

Unfortunately, many children have to contend with some sort of bullying. However, bullying children with food allergy can take on a new meaning if behaviour potentially causes a life threatening event. More information on this can be found here.

Taking responsibility for their allergy management plan

This huge change in lifestyle opens up a whole new world of independence, and with this, they’ll also need to be independently managing their allergies well.

  • Their individual healthcare plan will continue to be discussed at the beginning of each new term. Your child should be actively involved in these discussions.
  • Ahead of any medical consultations, encourage them to prepare questions for themselves. This will help them to continue to gain confidence in managing their allergies with healthcare porfessionals and make the transition to adult services easier.
  • At the start of the medical appointment, urge your child to talk about their allergy and ask some of the questions they have prepared. This will give you and the school insight into what they may need help with.

The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) has produced a range of Allergy Action Plans, which can be used for this purpose, and can be downloaded below.

Personal plan for children prescribed EpiPen

Personal plan for children prescribed EpiPen

If your child has been prescribed an EpiPen it is essential to provide the school with two Adrenaline-Auto Injectors (AAIs) as well as any other allergy medication your child may need.

Personal plan for children prescribed Jext

Personal plan for children prescribed Jext

When your child is old enough, they can carry their Jext with them in their bags. Any teacher or staff member in contact with your child should be trained to use all Adrenaline-Auto Injectors.

Work and work experience

Around the secondary school years, your teen/young person might want to get a Saturday job or take part in work experience through their school. This is a brand new environment for them and might result in them facing new challenges around their allergies

Young people commonly look for work in cafes and restaurants. This can present issues for young people who may live with food or latex allergies or allergic skin conditions.

Encourage your teen/young person to speak with their line manager or supervisor to explain about their allergies. Reassure them that they won’t be penalised within the work place and will be protected under occupational health within the workplace. Their line manager or supervisor should be very supportive to help put in place any measures to support them to be healthy in the workplace.

They may also be willing to carry out a risk assessment with them. In some cases employer may be required to, or choose to, refer on to occupational health for a more detailed assessment of your child’s requirements to enable them to carry out their job safely.

Unfortunately, some jobs are may not be suitable for young people living with allergies, because of the associated risks. This is something to bear in mind in conversations with your child about any employment opportunities which may arise.

Additional Resources

Model Policy for Allergy at School

Model Policy for Allergy at School

This Policy, which has been reviewed by leading allergy clinicians, contains advice on the storage and use of allergy medication, bullying in the school setting, what to do in an emergency and much more.

Managing Allergies at School

Managing Allergies at School

We understand that when your child has allergies, starting school can be a very daunting time and many questions will often arise. Here you will find top tips for keeping staff informed about their child’s allergic condition(s).

Eczema in the Workplace

Eczema in the Workplace

It is helpful to inform employers of your child's condition, particularly if there any potential impacts that their job or related activates.

Sanofi UK has provided a financial contribution to the production of this digital destination but has had no editorial input into the design, content or other outputs.

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