Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Advice issued to schools on dangers of concussion

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Education

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has written to all local schools locally to provide further information on concussion and to improve awareness of its dangers.

In his correspondence, the Minister has directed schools to advice on how to recognise the signs of concussion and has asked them to ensure everyone involved in the running of sporting activities at schools, including parents and pupils themselves, are aware of the risks.

Mr O’Dowd said: “I have written to all local schools as I want to ensure that schools are aware of the dangers of concussion and the fact that it can lead to death. I also want to highlight Second Impact Syndrome, a rare condition which can occur when a person with symptoms related to concussion suffers a second head injury. Sadly this was, according to the Coroner’s report, the cause of Benjamin Robinson’s death in 2011 following a head injury sustained whilst playing a school rugby match.

“Following Benjamin’s inquest, I committed to implementing any lessons that could be learned from this tragic incident, which had such a devastating impact on those who knew him. Carál Ní Chuilín, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, who has responsibility for sport in the north, and I met with Benjamin’s parents in recent weeks and I have also had discussions with the Chief Medical Officer on the best way forward.

“The letter I have issued today signposts schools to the Concussion Recognition Tool (CRT) which contains a checklist to help coaches, teachers and parents recognise the signs of concussion. Schools need to ensure that all staff, especially those involved in the delivery of sporting activities, and others they bring into school from external organisations to deliver sporting activities, are aware of the signs of concussion and Second Impact Syndrome and the associated risks.

“Parents also need to be aware of the risks and the signs they need to look for and my letter to schools asks Boards of Governors to consider how they might convey the messages in the CRT to parents.

“We need to ensure that pupils are educated about this important issue. They need to know the signs they should look for if one their friends sustains a head injury so that they can raise their concerns with the appropriate adult. I have therefore asked schools to consider how they can convey the messages in the CRT to pupils in the classroom in an age-appropriate manner.”

In conclusion, the Minister said that he would continue to look at this issue and would take any further action that may be appropriate: “I have already signalled that I wanted to ensure that no other family goes through what Benjamin’s family has been through and I will continue to consider if there is anything more that can be done to raise awareness of concussion for those involved in sport at school.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Concussion Recognition Tool can be found at: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/47/5/267.full.pdf
2. The Department of Education’s ‘Education Works’ campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’.The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/education-works for more information. Watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/thedeptofeducation
3. View photos from the Department of Education in our collection at http://www.flickr.com/niexecutive

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