More than a third of all school nurses are unsatisfied with the outcomes of at least half of the referrals they make to social workers, a report has found.
A review on school nurses, carried out by the Children’s Commissioner for England, found 41% of 382 school nurses “were unsatisfied with the outcomes of at least half of the referrals they make” while more than 5% were “not happy with the outcomes of any of the referrals they made”.
School nurses also felt child protection thresholds were “too high” and that concerns are not acted upon by children’s services. Almost a quarter of 309 school nurses have “difficulties contacting social services and particularly social workers, which takes up a lot of their time”.
The authors said school nurses also felt frustrated with the inaccessibility of children’s services with 23% reporting children’s services and social work were very hard to contact and engage with.
“Trying to establish this contact, in many cases took up a lot of the school nurses’ time,” the authors stated.
Issues with communication and information sharing across different safeguarding and child protection agencies were also reported.
The survey was completed by 772 school nurses in total. Among those who answered questions on child protection, it was felt that thresholds were too high and that a number of children and young people at risk and/or in need of support were being turned away.
“As a result, schools and school nurses often hold significant child protection concerns, without the power to intervene,” the report said.