ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2019) 66 OC6.4 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.66.OC6.4

Exam preparedness in students with type 1 diabetes and their schools - a quality improvement study

Hannah Yard1, Corrina Bretland2,3 & Ambika Shetty1,2,3


1School of Medcine, University of Cardiff, Cardiff, UK; 2Cardiff and the Vale Paediatric Diabetes Team, Cardiff, UK; 3Noah’s Ark Children Hospital, University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, UK


Introduction: Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a lifelong condition affecting over 29 000 children in the United Kingdom, the majority of whom are in full time education. Both hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia have been shown to impact the young person’s overall school performance and learning capacity. During exams, children and young people (CYP) with T1D have the additional stress of managing their diabetes appropriately, and therefore require special provisions. Currently, the reference for schools for special arrangements in exams is the ‘Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments’ document. However, this 105-page document only mentions the word ‘diabetes’ once. The Diabetes UK leaflet, ‘Type 1 Diabetes and School Exams’, is a valuable resource.

Aim: To analyse how prepared schools, exam boards, and CYP with T1D are in dealing with diabetes during school exams.

Methods: We distributed anonymised questionnaires to participants in the Cardiff and Vale area, including students with T1D in school years 10, 11 and 12, their families, schools, and exams officers.

Results: Almost all parents reported that their child’s diabetes affected their exam performance a moderate amount or less, whereas nearly half the students said their diabetes significantly affected them during exams. Over 90% of students said their blood glucose levels were more difficult to manage during revision and exams, whereas only 60% of parents agreed with this. Whilst 70% of parents had discussed exam arrangements with school, less than half the students were involved in these discussions. 50% of school staff had contacted the diabetes team during exam periods, whereas none of the exams officers had. 45% of the students had read the Diabetes UK leaflet, in contrast with just one of the school staff and one exams officer.

Conclusion: Our study clearly highlights that CYP with diabetes are not receiving the special provisions they require to achieve their full potential during exams. The diabetes teams, students, families, schools and exam boards need to work together to ensure that all parties involved feel more prepared. We have highlighted areas for improvement in order to create a resource for schools to help support CYP with T1D sitting exams.

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