Supporting the health and wellbeing of school aged children requires a workforce with expert knowledge, defined public health knowledge and the ability to respond to a plethora of issues raised by children, young people and families. School nurses and their teams are the workforce equipped to support the health and wellbeing of school-aged children – both in and out of school settings. The role is fast becoming even more dynamic as the workforce responds to new challenges and seeks innovative ways of increasing access to services for children and young people.
Although a relatively small workforce, school nurses readily embrace new ways of working, the appetite for innovation and creativity has never been stronger – the use of technology and social media over the last year has been embraced by school nursing teams, we are seeing some incredible examples emerging which have increased reach to young people who traditionally shied away from health services.
Using new approaches and engaging partners to improve support is fundamental to the leadership role of school nurses, we are seeing school nurses leading the way in improving access for vulnerable young people including support for young carers, victims of FGM and CSE. This targeted approach forms part of the offer, as does the universal offer for all children, which involves drawing on partners’ skills and expertise to share the load and ensure children and young people receive the most appropriate support to meet their individual and community needs.
We receive many requests for good practice and information about what other areas are doing – remarkably we never struggle to find any – there is a wealth of good practice out there, school nurses and their teams are delivering excellence but often are too busy to shout about their achievements.
We are delighted to be working together to host the next School Nursing International Conference next year, the Department of Health, Public Health England and SAPHNA see this a an opportunity to bring together school nurses from across the globe to share good practice, to network and as a space to explore new innovation. The event will bring together over 20 nations, all who share a common interest – their passion to improve outcomes for school-aged children. The conference will not only be ‘about’ children and young people – it will be led by them! We have some exciting plans up our sleeve!
School nurses in England, and indeed the UK, have so much to shout about – so we hope you will be able to join the conference next July and give school nurses a voice or rather a well-deserved roar!
Wendy Nicholson is the Professional Officer for School and Community Nursing at the Department of Health. Follow Wendy on Twitter @WendyJNicholson