School Nurse

The Job and What's Involved

School nurses work with pupils, teachers and parents to promote good health and wellbeing in school age children.

As a school nurse, your duties could include:

  • Raising awareness of issues that can have a negative effect on student health (such as smoking and drug abuse).
  • Promoting healthy living, including safe-sex education.
  • Administering immunisations and vaccinations.
  • Carrying out developmental screening.
  • Contributing to social education and citizenship classes.
  • Supporting children with medical needs such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or mental health problems.

You may also give training to teachers about the health care needs of individual children.

Part-time and term-time only hours are common and you would typically work between 38 and 42 weeks a year.

You could work for a single school or cover a number of schools. If your role involves visiting a range of schools, you will probably be based at a GP practice or health centre.

You could also work in a private boarding school, which may involve living on school premises and being on 24-hour call (in case of emergency).

Nurses can earn between £20,700 and £26,800 a year.
Nurse specialists, such as school nurses, may earn around £33,500. With experience and managerial responsibilities, this can rise to around £39,300.

Extra allowances may be paid to those living in or around London.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 2,500 school nurses in the UK working in local Primary Care Trusts or with local health authorities.

You could also work in the private sector with independent boarding schools or day schools.

You are likely to find most opportunities for promotion with larger schools.

Education and Training

You will usually need around two years' professional experience as a qualified nurse (any branch) before you can begin training or working as a school nurse.

To qualify as a nurse you need a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved degree or Diploma of Higher Education. For more information about becoming a nurse, check the relevant Nurse job guides.

You could start work as a school nurse without further training or qualifications, especially if you have relevant experience. However, some employers will prefer you to have completed a (shortened) degree or postgraduate course leading to registration as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (School Nursing).

Courses are available on a one-year full-time or two-year part-time basis. You could fund yourself or you may be able to find a vacancy, for example on the NHS Jobs website, that includes working under supervision and studying for the specialist qualification. Check the NMC website for details of course providers.

You could have an advantage (when looking for work or applying for a course) if you have experience in health promotion or working with children in the community.

Knowledge of child protection and an understanding of family planning issues and the health needs of school children would also be helpful.

You are likely to need a driving licence for this job.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

As a qualified nurse you need to renew your registration with the NMC every three years.

To re-register you must:

1. Have worked a minimum of 450 hours.

2. Show that you are developing your knowledge and competence and keeping up to date in your practice.

3. Complete a minimum of 35 hours' professional study

4. Keep records of your professional development.

If you have had a break from working as a nurse and your registration has lapsed you will need to take a return-to-practice course. Courses are available throughout the UK and include a mixture of theory and clinical placements. You can contact your local NHS Trust, or search the NMC website for a list of approved courses.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A school nurse needs:

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Self awareness and emotional stability.
  • The ability to win the trust of children and encourage them to talk about their problems.
  • The ability to relate well to people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • A responsible attitude to work.
  • A non-judgemental approach.
  • Knowledge of the health needs of children and teenagers.
  • The ability to explore sensitive issues.
  • Tact and patience.
  • The ability to stay calm in an emergency.
  • Good team working skills and the ability to work alone.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could become a team manager, community matron, or move into health visiting.

Get Further Information

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC),
23 Portland Place, London W1B 1PZ
Tel: 020 7333 9333

Queens University of Belfast,
School of Nursing and Midwifery,
Medical Biology Centre,
97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL
Tel: 028 9097 2233

University of Ulster at Jordanstown,
School of Nursing, Shore Road,
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim BT37 0QB
Tel: 08700 400 700

NHS Careers,
PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY
Tel: 0345 60 60 655

NHS Wales:

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