Colin Bye FRGS, 27th September 2018.

Colin Bye FRGS, 27th September 2018.

Unfortunately Diabetes Facilitator Sally Watson, our guest speaker for September, was unable to attend the meeting. However, the position was very kindly filled by Geography teacher Colin Bye, (pictured left in the photo), who is also Head of Humanities, Social Sciences, PE and Modern Foreign Languages Faculty at Fakenham Academy and Fakenham Sixth Form.

Although not medically trained, apart from First Aid, Colin talked about his personal experience with diabetes within the school environment and his family. His 15 year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2016 at the age of 13, and would have attend the evening if he was not off to Spain on his first residential trip abroad since being diagnosed.

Colin is involved in the care for Type 1 diabetic students in the school environment and supports them during the transition period from primary to secondary school, which can be a difficult time for some. Going from a school with maybe one classroom with the same teacher to a larger school with multiple classrooms and teachers and where staff and students within class and school may be less familiar with Type 1 diabetic students can be rather daunting, so building their confidence in the transition period is a great help.

Class teachers need to be trained about the effects of high or low blood sugar levels of diabetic students and the way those levels are monitored and treated.

Those with diabetes will at times need to check their blood sugar levels during class especially before a relatively late lunchtime or PE lesson, as their levels may be low. Some students may use a Free Style Libre Continuous Glucose Monitoring device, which is waved across a sensor attached to the upper arm. The device may be mistaken for a mobile phone but smaller, so teachers need to be aware not to confuse the two. Depending on the readings, the student may need to do something or not. If the reading is low a blood test would be performed, as the CGM may not be precisely accurate as there is a short delay between testing sugar levels in the blood stream and sugar levels in the muscle which the CGM detects. With a low reading 2 or 3 jelly babies or a small bottle of coca cola would be taken, with re-testing done 15 minutes later and repeated if necessary.


If the reading is high extra insulin will need to be administered and may be delivered through a second device called a PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager). This runs an insulin pump and again looks like a small mobile phone.

All of these procedures are quick and simple and will not cause distraction. It is part of what a person with Type 1 diabetes does on a day to day basis. Staff should not be overly concerned if they see a student with diabetes testing his or her blood, eating something sugary or correcting insulin doses. Under no circumstances should a student be asked to leave the room to carry out these tasks, as leaving someone on their own whilst going low could prove extremely dangerous. A diabetes management kit and snacks should be carried at all times and handed to the teacher during PE lessons in case required.

If at any time a student is not responsive, losing consciousness or is raising concerns about a blood sugar reading to a member of staff, First Aid support should be received immediately.

Colin was very keen to answer questions from members present at the meeting. He stressed the vastly improved quality of life of CGM gives to students both inside and outside school, allowing them to participate in a wide range of activities without the need for constantly finger pricking to test blood sugar levels. He strongly supports the Diabetes UK national campaign, for CGM to be available free on prescription, across all clinical commissioning groups across the country.