School nurses work alongside teachers and parents to promote the health
of school-aged children. They are known in Scotland as public health
nurses. The work of a school nurse can include:
• working with pupils, teachers and parents to promote healthy
• helping to identify and address particular concerns in a school,
such as smoking, drug abuse or safe sex
• supporting children with medical needs like asthma, diabetes
or epilepsy and co-ordinating their healthcare
• supporting and counselling children with mental health problems
• working with parents to promote good parenting
• helping parents to deal with specific issues such as bedwetting
or head lice
• playing a role in immunisation and vaccination programmes
• contributing to training in social education and citizenship
• working with teachers, social workers and other professionals
to help protect vulnerable children.
Some school nurses work for a single school. Others cover a number
In Scotland, the jobs of some public health nurses extend beyond school
nursing, eg their work might include some health visitor responsibilities.
Salaries in the National Health Service (NHS) range from around £21,630
a year for a newly-qualified school nurse, to a maximum of £34,417
a year for a school nurse manager.
Most school nurses work part time and in term-time only. Nurses working
in more than one school may need a driving licence. School nurses in
private boarding schools usually live at the school and can be on call
to cover emergencies 24 hours a day.
School nurses should:
• enjoy working with children
• be able to relate well to people of all ages and backgrounds
• be able to explain things clearly to young people and adults
• work well alone and as part of a team
• be able to talk confidently about sensitive issues
• respect children’s confidences.
Most school nurses are employed by the NHS. Others are employed by
individual schools, including independent boarding schools and day schools.
School nurses are qualified registered nurses, usually with at least
two years’ post-registration experience. For more general information
about becoming a nurse, see Nurse. There is no upper age limit for entry
to school nursing.
It is not essential to have further qualifications to become a school
nurse. Many school nurses, though, work towards a degree or a postgraduate
diploma in school nursing. Courses last one year full time, or two years
part time and are available at universities and colleges throughout
Nurses may move to a larger school or another NHS trust for more responsibility
and experience. Promotion is possible to school nurse manager. Nurses
can also move to another branch of nursing or become a health visitor.