School nurse figures are still well below the government’s target level despite a doubling in the number of school nurses over the last 10 years.
Figures released last week reveal that there are estimated to be 1,700 matrons, nurses and medical staff working in schools across England today, compared to just 800 in 1997.
However, this is still only around half the number needed to meet the government’s goal of at least one full-time, year-round, qualified school nurse working with every cluster of primary schools and their linked secondary school by 2010. There are 3385 secondary schools in England.
In March, the government published new guidance to encourage schools and their health partners to give a greater priority to school nursing as part of its wider drive to improve the health of children and young people.
Launching the guidance, social care minister Liam Byrne described school nurses as “vital to our plans to give every child a flying start in life”.
“They help young people stay safe and healthy, providing confidential advice to those who may find it difficult to discuss problems,” he added.