Barring a schoolgirl from a school trip due to a type 1 diabetes appointment is discriminatory and unfair

Posted on 09 October 2017

You might have seen recent newspaper reports about a young girl who was reportedly denied a school trip to the cinema which was afforded to pupils with high attendance, due to a medical appointment related to her type 1 diabetes.

JDRF’s UK Chief Executive, Karen Addington penned a letter to the media on this story. Read Karen’s letter below:


Dear Editor,

Type 1 diabetes is a tough and unrelenting condition. People with type 1 diabetes, whilst able to lead fulfilling lives, don’t get days off from managing their blood glucose levels and injecting insulin.

Olivia Harkins, the young schoolgirl from Liverpool who was reportedly denied a school trip to the cinema due to a medical appointment related to her type 1 diabetes, doesn’t get a day off from living with it and managing it.

Karen Addington

As a seven-year-old dealing with a serious condition, she requires vital medical checks.  A child diagnosed at the age of five can need more than 19,000 insulin injections before their 18th birthday.

People with type 1 diabetes need at least eight annual health checks, to help them stay healthy. But a recent audit found fewer than two in five people with type 1 diabetes were receiving their eight annual checks.

If the 29,000 children in the UK living with type 1 diabetes face even more barriers to prevent them from having their vital checks, their health is at risk.

If the reports are true, then JDRF agrees with Olivia’s parents – she was discriminated against by her school. Her head teacher has apparently explained that the school’s policy is children should not miss lessons ‘unless it is absolutely necessary’. Type 1 diabetes is unavoidable and health checks are absolutely necessary.

Yours faithfully,

Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF

JDRF Type 1 Diabetes School Pack

Information and support on life at school with type 1 diabetes

JDRF has information and support on offer to help make school life an enjoyable and healthy experience. Have a look through these resources, and download a free schools pack at the link below.

Find out more