School nurse

School nurses promote healthy lifestyles and prevent illness with school age students.

Working life

School nurses are qualified and registered nurses or midwives many of whom have chosen to gain additional experience, training and qualifications to become specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN - SN). 

School nurses work across education and health, providing a link between school, home and the community. Their aim is improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people. They work with families and young people from five to nineteen and are usually linked to a school or group of schools.

Download transcript

School nurses see all children with their parents during their first year of schooling for a health assessment, which will include a vision and hearing test. They help children and families gain additional help and support when required, and provide and coordinate additional services for vulnerable children. 

The school nurse’s day-to-day role varies greatly from area to area, and depending on the type of school. Typically, it includes:

They also advise on common childhood conditions such as asthma, diabetes and eczema, working closely with general practitioners, health visitors and other health and social care staff. They may be based in a school, a GP surgery or a health centre and may work as part of a wider team with senior school nurses, community staff nurses and nursery nurses. They may be employed by local councils, the NHS or by schools directly.

"Young people get a lot of negative press but they never fail to impress and inspire me with their resilience and creativity." Philip Wells, lead professional school nursing/practice teacher, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Read Philip's story

Entry requirements and training

You need to a registered midwife, adult, child, mental health or learning disability nurse to apply for a school nursing training programme. The training programme is also known as Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting (SCPHN - SN) and is at degree level. It's normally no less than one academic year (45 weeks) full time or part-time equivalent.

Must have skills 

You need to be have excellent communication skills, be well-organised, confident and able to cope with potentially challenging situations. You'll need to be able to work independently, although you'll work as part of a team. Being highly organised, flexible, observant and able to prioritise effectively is also important. 

Career development 

Some school nurses choose to work towards senior school nursing or managerial roles, whilst others may carry out research and possibly become lecturers in nursing or another related subject.

Pay and conditions 

Many school nurses are now employed outside of the NHS, especially in local authorities, where terms and conditions can vary.

If working for the NHS, you'll usually work a standard 37.5 hours per week and be paid under Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system, typically starting  at band 6. You’ll also have access to our generous pension scheme and health service discounts, as well as at least 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays.

Want to come back?

If your SCPHN registration has lapsed then you may need to complete a return to practice programme.  Email us so that we can put you in touch with someone in your local area who can offer tailored advice. 

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve