In 2017 Wallace became the first grammar school in Northern Ireland to achieve formal recognition from Diabetes UK for the quality of its care for Type 1 diabetic students. Jillian Pratchett from the charity visited Wallace recently to make the formal presentation of the Good Diabetes Care in School Award meeting with Wallace staff and parents; Principal Mrs Deborah O’Hare, Senior Teacher Miss Heather Gracey, job-sharing school nurses Mrs Jennie Miller/Mrs Lorraine Mitchell and parents Dr Louise Sands and Mrs Noeleen Whyte. Dr Sands had submitted the initial nomination for the award based on her recognition of the pastoral and medical care her daughter had received as a student at Wallace.
Being nominated for an award is one thing…proving you deserve it is a decidedly thorough process! Mrs Miller, Mrs Mitchell and Miss Gracey compiled the substantial portfolio of evidence required which covered policy, plans, parental recommendations and practice.
Wallace has a number of type 1 diabetic students several of whom use insulin pumps, a comparatively new and innovative technology. The management of diabetes can be complex and the school nurses play a key role in assisting students in managing the condition. IPads and iPhones also play a useful part as many students use an app to help them gauge calorific intake. The comprehensive menu in the school canteen ensures that balanced meals are always available.
Both parents paid glowing tributes to the school nurses for the warmth of their concern for their children noting that “It isn’t just the condition that is cared for it is the person.” Dr Sands also expressed her gratitude to the Wallace staff for the amazing opportunities her daughter had enjoyed at Wallace which included two ski trips to the USA and the Asha trip to India. She said “I really appreciated that the staff were so willing to educate themselves about the condition and that they were always so discreet and sensitive in their behaviour on the trips.” The meeting provided fascinating insights on the day to day challenges of participating in various activities; to keep the battery on a blood sugar monitor functioning in icy conditions bubble wrap and a heavy sock are essential!
Jillian Pratchett said “I am delighted to present this award in recognition of the outstanding practice evidenced in the school. Diabetes is a complex condition with huge implications for a pupil’s physical and emotional health and it is always encouraging to hear such affirmation from parents of the quality of care offered.”
Wallace Principal Mrs Deborah O’Hare said “Whilst it is immensely flattering to hear such tributes I would like to think that this good practice is only one more example of what we call “The Wallace Way”. I know that our nurses and my staff can be relied upon to take that extra step or do that additional task to ensure our pupils have the best school experiences possible. I am delighted for our nurses that they have gained this public acknowledgement of their excellence as practitioners.”