Schools and coeliac disease FAQs
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Frequently Asked Questions
The school caterer has said they cannot provide my child with a gluten free meal option. Are they required to do so?
Under section 100 of the Children and Families Act 2014, schools have a statutory duty to make arrangements for supporting pupils with medical conditions. This should include having policy in place for managing long term health conditions and developing an individual health care plan for the child which should cover how their condition will be managed.
Whilst every effort should be made to make arrangements there is no obligation to provide a suitable meal. It’s important that when your child starts school or if they are diagnosed during their school life, you arrange a meeting with the school and school caterer to discuss what arrangements can be made for your child.
If suitable arrangements can’t be made it would be safer to opt for a packed lunch option.
Is it safe for my child to participate in cookery class?
It is possible for your child to participate in school cookery classes but some steps will need to be taken to manage the risks of cross contamination. You will need to discuss what measures can be put in place during your meeting to discuss the child’s individual health care plan.
We have an online gluten free training course which will provide you with all the knowledge on how to look after a pupil with coeliac disease, you can find more about our training at https://glutenfreeacademy.org.uk/
You can also download our catering guidance which provides guidance for preparing safe gluten free food and identifies areas where there is risk of cross contamination with gluten.
The school often has bake sales, how can I make sure my child can be included in these and remain safe?
Bake sales can be tricky when your child is following a gluten free diet. Why not suggest that the school buys pre-packaged cakes from the supermarket which can be kept in its original packaging. You could also suggest there is a separate cake table for gluten free cakes where there is a designated knife and chopping board to prevent cross contamination.
My child is being left out for birthdays and celebrations, what can I do?
To avoid your child feeling different or excluded at snack times, you, may need to provide gluten free snacks. Inform staff that these snacks should be stored separately to avoid contact with foods containing gluten. If children bring in sweets or snacks for their birthdays or other celebrations it is a good idea to provide a gluten free alternative that can be provided for your child.
Can my child be excluded from school trips because they have coeliac disease?
Children must not be excluded from school trips because they have coeliac disease. If food is provided as part of a school activity the school must make reasonable efforts to provide gluten free food. Speak to you child’s teacher about the meals and snack provided. If the trip involves external caterers, teachers can print off our catering guidance to provide to catering departments.
I would like some material/resources to explain what coeliac disease is to my school/class
We have developed a Young Champions pack which aims to give children aged 5 to 11 the confidence to talk about their coeliac disease at school and in their extracurricular activities. Through fun activities and information, we hope that your child’s peers and their parents, teachers and leaders will gain a better understanding of the condition and become more aware of what life is like on a gluten free diet.
You can read more about our inspiring Young Champions here and order a pack.
Should I be concerned about art materials that might contain gluten?
Gluten has to be eaten to cause symptoms so using paints, crayons and glue should not be a problem unless your child accidentally eats them. As young children will often put things in their mouth, using materials without gluten is a sensible option.
Is Play DohTM gluten free?
Play DohTM is not always gluten free. However, it is easy to make play dough without using gluten. A gluten free recipe is available here.