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A guide to administering medication in schools

A guide to administering medication in schools

Most schools will have at least one pupil that requires medication during school hours. This can be for a short bout of illness, a long-term medical need or an emergency situation.


Although teachers and support staff are not obliged to administer medication to children at school (unless stipulated in their contracts), it is something that can be taken on as a voluntary responsibility.

However, the prime responsibility for a child’s health is in the hands of their parents/guardians. They should inform the headteacher of their child's medical needs, requesting that medication is administered during school hours.

Most common medication

GSL - General Sales List medicines do not have any legal restrictions and can be bought anywhere. They aren’t considered to be particularly dangerous – although low-risk doesn’t mean no risk, so you should still always be careful. Examples of GSL’s are paracetamol and cold and flu remedies.

Pharmacy Medicines - These medicines are only available behind the counter at a pharmacy where a professional is able to offer advice or refuse sale altogether if they feel it isn’t a suitable medication. Pharmacy Medicines are always marked with P on the packaging and include codeine, laxatives, and milder sleeping tablets.

Prescription Only Medicines - Some medicines can have particularly harmful effects or cause addiction if misused. To get hold of medicines in this category requires a prescription from a doctor or a dentist. All Prescription Only Medicines have POM printed on the packet. They include anti-biotics, anti-depressants and anti-epileptics.

Controlled Drugs - This is the most serious category of medication and has powerful effects on the body, which are likely to cause harm or addiction. So, there are certain restrictions on how they’re prescribed by doctors, how they’re dispensed, how you need to store them and how you need to administer them. They’re all marked with POM and CD on the packaging. Controlled Drugs include Morphine, Fentanyl and methylphenidate (which is used to treat ADHD).

School trips & events

When planning schools trip and events outside of the premises, schools will need to consider taking additional precaution. They’ll need to think about the presence of staff who are able to administer medication and/or inclusion of the pupil's parent. Advice should be sought from the pupil's GP or the school health service.

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