Children & Young People with IBD: a guide for schools

This guide has been produced to provide school staff with some general information about Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Diseae - IBD) and its likely physical and psychological effects. It has been written with the help of parents of children with the condition and includes some of their comments. 

In the UK, at least one person in 210 has Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD. These are lifelong conditions that can start in childhood, and studies suggest around a quarter of people with IBD are aged under 16 when they are diagnosed. If you work in a primary or junior school then you may only occasionally meet a child with Crohn's or Colitis, but if you work in a secondary school then it’s much more likely that you’ll work with at least one pupil with the condition.

With the help of parents, children and young people with Crohn's or Colitis, we have produced this guide to provide you with some general information about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), its symptoms, treatments and their side effects. At times, living with Crohn's or Colitis can make school difficult for children and young people, but every child with Crohn's or Colitis is different and most can continue to go to school, take part in sports and other interests and do as well as their peers. Most then go on to further education, training or employment. Knowing about the physical and emotional impact the condition can have on young people can help you and the school provide the best possible support, which will allow them to thrive and achieve the best from their time at school both academically and socially. All four nations of the UK have some legal frame work or statutory guidance that places a responsibility on schoools to care for children who may have additional support needs. There are more details and further information about this on page 13 of this guide. 

Getting started

To support a child with Crohn's or Colitis properly, your school should refer to the policies relating to looking after children with medical conditions in your country. In the UK these vary depending on the particular nation. We have provided a brief overview of the policies relating to the different nations (see Appendix near the end of this page). We have suggested practical ways to meet the guidance and laws throughout the leaflet. Some general things to think about are:

• Establishing good relationships with the child, their parent or carer and their Paediatric Nurse Specialist or IBD team.

• Having plans and policies in place to meet the needs of a child with a medical condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

• Extra training for staff.

What is inflammatory bowel disease?
What Crohn's and Colitis are not
What are the main symptoms?
Delays in physical development
Treatment for Crohn's and Colitis
Psychological effects
What helps?
Key people
School life
Children and young people with Crohn's or Colitis keypoints and how school staff can help
APPENDIX: Schools legal responsibility and statutory guidance
Help and support from Crohn's & Colitis UK
Other useful organisations
How we write our information

Last reviewed: April 2017