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School nurse week: spreading the word

School nurse week, which runs from 10 to 14 July, is a great opportunity to raise your profile and make colleagues aware of your responsibilities.

At The Future of School Nursing conference in May, one speaker confirmed what school nurses are beginning to realise: the only thing that’s constant is change.  

Whatever the future of public health looks like, the job is clearly changing. School nurses will be working to a contract and accounting for what we do, and as a consequence, school nurses will not have the time to carry out non-commissioned activities. School nurse week is an opportunity to engage with others, particularly influential individuals and groups, to explain the health concerns of school-age children and adolescents.

Many people still cannot understand the need for school nurses, because they believe that personal and health issues should be a matter for parents. There is also an ongoing debate about the merits of free school lunches and free breakfasts, with some people convinced that the state should not intervene. The week is a chance to persuade people of the merits of universal school nursing input, which must be framed using evidence, of course, but also as part of a narrative.

Can you tell the story of how the presence of a school nurse improves the lives of children and young people? Can you describe how your intervention is important to the outcome? Are you prepared to start the conversations with the facts available at your fingertips?

Colleagues may be unaware of the breadth and scope of modern school nursing, but it is up to us to promote what we do.


School nurse week: Starting the conversation

Ask yourself the following to frame a narrative about school nursing, and to promote your role, inspire yourself and others, and engage in new partnerships.

Monday
Safeguarding

  • Do your managers require you to attend case conferences and core group meetings that are not relevant?  
  • Do you have a recent policy? 
  • Who, locally, needs to know what you bring to safeguarding local children? 
  • Is there a Childline, NSPCC, Barnados, Action for Children or any other charity or statutory organisation that needs to know about school nurses? 
  • Are there any local initiatives around FGM, and are you involved? 
  • Can you write a piece for CPHVA use?

 

Tuesday
Healthy lifestyles, obesity, dental health

  • Can you contact local dental surgeries and discuss what school nurses do?
  • Do the local GPs and practice nurses think of you when presented with overweight children or those who are faddy eaters? 
  • Have you chatted with your midday supervisors recently?
  • Could you eat in the school canteen?

 

Wednesday
Supporting children with complex/ additional health and wellbeing needs 

School nurses who work in special needs schools should ask the following: 

  • Do your health visitor and school nurse colleagues know what you do? 
  • If you have local education psychologists or education social workers, have you met up to discuss where you fit in?
  • Can you see doctors or a specialist nurse at the local asthma clinic? Do the GP surgeries know about school health policies? 
  • Have you met with school governors to discuss your role and their responsibility? 
  • Can you talk to any local charities that deal with disabled children? 
  • Is there a young carers group in the area? Have you told them about your role?

 

Thursday
Mental and emotional health 

  • Schools find this issue takes up a lot of their resources. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have also faced cuts, and children are suffering. 
  • Does CAMHS know what you do? 
  • Are you commissioned to help here? If not, why not? 
  • What do your lead local authority councillors know about the work you do at drop-ins? Can you evidence this? 
  • Are there local voluntary or not-for-profit groups, such as YoungMinds or Place2Be, that should learn about school nursing? 

Friday
PSHE

Many teachers with PSHE in their portfolio are knowledgeable, but many aren’t! Public health priorities include reducing smoking and stopping children starting; reducing harmful drinking and alcohol-related hospital admissions; and ensuring every child has the best start in life.  

  • Do external organisations such as Brook or Life contribute in these areas, and do they know about modern school nurses? 
  • What happens to the A&E slips of those teenagers who are admitted drunk? 
  • Do you have any partnerships with street pastors or the police?
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