Press release

Tips to tackle the back to school blues

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Text the school nurse for help and advice

Children who are starting secondary school for the first time this September are being encouraged to get to know their school nurse so they know where to go for help and advice when they need it.

As many parents eagerly anticipate the start of new school year, for some parents and young people this brings anxiety and worry. This is especially the case where children are starting school for the first time and where pupils are leaving the familiar surrounding of their primary school to what can be a large and intimidating environment of a new secondary school.

The School Nursing service has a crucial role in improving the physical and emotional health of children and young people. The service has been working with young people to design eye-catching information to promote the range of services from a school nurse and inform pupils on how to access them - including texting to make appointments.

This new school year is likely to see a surge in appointments for school nurses being made by text and the launch of more websites of school nursing services so pupils can access information outside of the usual school hour.

A number of tips for parents and young people have been issued on how to best use the school nursing service to ease the smooth transition to a new school.

These include:

  • Make every effort to find out who your school nurse is and how to get in touch with the team.
  • Find out what services the school nurse team offers in your school including when they can be seen and where they can be found.
  • If your child is starting school for the first time and you have specific concerns about your child’s health, your health visitor or GP can organise an introduction to the school nurse before the term begins.
  • Talk openly to your child about their health and development and how to keep healthy.
  • As your child gets older they might find it embarrassing to talk to you about puberty or may want more independence. The school nurse offers a confidential and non-judgemental service.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said:

“We want to make it easier for young people to use the school nursing service and get good health advice. One of the keys to this to this is make pupils aware of what school nurses can do for them and how to find them.”

“We have worked with young people, not only to shape the service so that it meets their needs, but to also help raise awareness amongst the school community”

“These new publicity materials are an important way to publicise the improvements in the school nursing service and to ensure that the young people who need support know where to find it.”

Director of Nursing, Viv Bennett said:

“Starting school is an exciting time but can also be a rather daunting prospect for parents and their child. Health visitors, GPs and school nurses work closely together to ensure that there is continued support for all pupils.

 ”Moving up to secondary school can also present challenges for young people and their parents, as it brings home the fact that their child is moving on to a new stage in their development that will end in adulthood. It is crucial that there is a good awareness of the support and advice that can be provided by the school nursing service.”

Dan Moxon, from the North West Regional Youth Unit said:

“‘Young people want to know three things about their school nursing service - how they can access them, what services they provide, and that they can be trusted and relied upon. By working with young people directly to develop these materials the Department of Health has made sure they are giving exactly the right message ou

“It’s been a grea opportunity to work directly with both school nurses and young people on this project to make sure we are getting information out there that young people can use to get support for their health and wellbeing.”

Materials will be made in to posters in school corridors, as credit cards for wallets or as factsheets in school folders. The information also be adapted locally to include the names and contact details of a particular school nursing team and links to their website.

Notes to Editors

  • The School Nurses Development Programme research with the British Youth Council and the North West Regional Youth Unit found that:


In this age range they indicated they wanted support from their school nurse to deal with the following issues;

  • if they were being bullied
  • if they had concerns at home
  • if they were feeling sad where they could get help
  • if they had concerns about a friend or their own health
  • information about their weight and how they develop including dental health, growth, healthy eating


Young people told us that they need to know who their school nurse is, and how they can help young people, as soon as they enter their secondary school. They want their school nurse to be a familiar face.

Young people felt that school nurses should focus on giving advice both from an early age and before health issues reached ‘crisis point’.

The top five services that young people think all school nurses should provide include: advice on drugs, advice on contraception, advice on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), advice on stopping smoking, and how to access other health services such as counselling.

Parents wanted:

  • Information about health checks
  • drop in sessions where parents can get advise
  • somewhere to go with health concerns
  • support for children with long term conditions and health needs
  • sex education advise and how to address this with teenagers
  • The advice on school nursing and the materials for young people can be found via the DH website