School nurses are vital to kids’ health

Do you remember your school nurse? They were the one you went to when you fell off the monkey bars and scraped your knee. The person whose office you visited when you felt sick. And on occasion the person who checked your hair for that dreaded childhood malady – nits.

On the front page of this week’s Brackley and Towcester Advertiser we carried a story about parents’ anger surrounding the redundancy of the school nurse at Madgalen College School in Brackley (you can also read the story online here).

Denise Stevens will be leaving the school at the end of the month despite protests from parents and a petition from students at the school who want her to stay.

This is a retrograde step, particularly when the neighbouring county of Oxfordshire has made a deal which will see every secondary school in the county have its own full-time nurse.

Casting my mind back to when I was at school, I remember my school nurse, Sister Moffatt. She was the no-nonsense sort, but at the same time you could go to her with anything with the sure-fire knowledge that she would not judge you and would always give you the best advice.

As a young girl growing up, this was vital. Being a teenager can be difficult at the best of times and when you need advice from an adult, you don’t always want to go to your parents or a teacher. A nurse can listen to you with a sympathetic ear and treat what you say to them in confidence.

As well as being an adult for young people who need someone to talk to, school nurses are also in the front line when it comes to dealing with childhood health problems and educating our youngsters about their wellbeing.

Childhood obesity is on the rise. The latest figures show almost a third of 10 and 11-year-olds and over a fifth of four to five-year-olds are either overweight or obese. We need all the help we can get in the battle against this trend and school nurses are an important part of that.

As concerned parent Helen Tarrant, who has a child at Magdalen College School, said in our story: “Mrs Stevens does so much more than just hand out plasters to our children. No amount of first aid training that other staff members receive can replace the many years of experience that a qualified nurse has.”

When it comes to the health needs of our country’s children is it not better to have a medically qualified individual on hand in our nation’s schools rather than someone with just basic first aid knowledge?

Let’s show our support for the Sister Moffats of this country.