Principals will have received a letter dated 24 April 2012, from the Education Minister purporting to outline the responsibilities of Principals in the administration of medicine to pupils.
It is important that Principals are aware that NAHT(NI) concurs with the Department of Education’s (DE) position as stated on their website in the preamble to the DE Guidance document- “Supporting Pupils with medication needs” (2008) http://www.deni.gov.uk/support_with_medical_needs.pdf
“There is no overarching legal duty upon School Staff to administer medication. This guidance does not alter in any way the right of staff not to volunteer.”
Unfortunately, the Minister has not clarified who is responsible should a volunteer cause or be involved in problems that arise as a result of their administration of medication. The role and responsibility of the Principal also remains unclear. Consequently, staff administering medicines are placing themselves in a legally vulnerable position. In these circumstances NAHT(NI) advises its members not to administer medication to pupils until such times as we receive clarification on these issues.
It is essential that a fully developed policy or guidelines on the administration of medication includes a clear acceptance by employing authorities of any liabilities that may arise from an individual teacher, or any member of staff, voluntarily administrating medication to pupils.
The NI Assembly Education Committee is currently taking evidence on the issues and NAHT(NI) has made a written submission. We will be giving direct evidence to the Committee on 23 May. This interest by the Committee may have stimulated the Minister’s letter.
Please see the NAHT Guidance on the administration of medication to pupils.
Our advice is that members should not administer or encourage teachers and /or support staff to voluntarily administer medicines or provide healthcare.
Director of Education NAHT (NI)