Names: Laraine Marston and Amanda Street
Job titles: School Nurse Specialist Practitioner (SCHPN)
Specialty: School Nursing Service
Organisation: Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
The aim of the project was to develop a transition package for children who were preparing to transition to secondary school, increasing the visibility of the service, improving children’s knowledge about the role of the school nurse and improve their confidence and ability to access our service.
Children move from primary school to secondary school at a time when they are experiencing significant biological and social change. It is an important life transition point that can affect children’s attainment and wellbeing in the long term (Rice et al, 2011). School Nurses have an importance role in supporting children through transition. However, far too few children know who their school nurse is and so a challenge is to deliver a ‘visible, accessible and confidential’ service (British Youth Council, 2012).
How did you initiate the work?
The British Youth Council (2012) School Nurse Champion programme, designed for secondary aged pupils as a base for our intervention. Using our prior knowledge and experience of delivering the programme, we adapted the materials to ensure that they were engaging for a younger age group. In addition, the Makewaves© ‘Know Your School Nurse’ badge syllabus was used to design activities for the package.
Initially, the plan was to work with Year 6 pupils who were due to make the transition to secondary school. However, they were preparing for SATS and unable to commit to further work. After discussion with the pilot school, the focus was changed to year 5 pupils which would allow us to continue to work with the children throughout year 6.
What have the challenges to implementing the service/intervention been? And what has enabled the implementation of the service/intervention?
We had some false starts on this programme whilst trying to engage pilot schools. Part of challenge was clearly articulating what we were trying to achieve and how this might benefit the children and the schools. We now have a more coherent script and the benefit of being able to evidence the success of this programme and this will support engagement of future cohorts.
Engagement and commitment of the schools’ senior leadership team has been key to successful delivery of this programme. It has helped us identify a group of children to work with, gained support from a teaching assistant and supported the links to other health initiatives that the school was engaged with.
Has the initiative or project made a difference to patients/service users and or staff?
School Nurses and nursery nurses, supported by a teaching assistant ran weekly sessions covering the ‘Know Your School Nurse’ badge syllabus and the components of the School Nurse champions programme. The children were supported to design questionnaires and run focus groups with their peers, present the results and collate the information into a report.
The survey results were interesting. A higher number of children in Year 5/6 reported to have seen a school nurse and knew what a school nurse did. We focus our delivery of our ‘relationship and sex education’ programme and this may explain our visibility to this cohort. Even so, the results showed a need to continue to improve our visibility.
The children reflected their learning from the programme and told us:
- I now understand how to help others
- I would like to teach others about what school nurse do
- We are now not going to have sugary snacks for lunch or dinner
- I’d like to help deliver PSHE classes
- I’d like to do assemblies
- To invite the school nurse in to school to help people with their problems
- We really liked doing the survey’s and finding out what other children think.
Based on their keenness to take this work further, they asked their peers what they’d to learn more about.
The children achieved their ASDAN award after completing the components of the School Nurse Champion programme. As part of this, they have gained an understanding of the role of the School Nurse and implemented some of their ideas for promoting the role of and access to a School Nurse. For example, they designed a notice board in school and added a post box for ‘ask your school nurse’ questions which will be answered by the named nurse on a weekly basis.
What are the long-term aims for the work?
Taking an approach to link existing evidence-based interventions and programmes together with trialling new ones has worked well. Adapting existing materials to meet the needs of the younger age group took less time than building a programme from scratch which was a more effective use of our staff resource.
The work has exceeded our expectations and we are now feeling more confident work with the children to start to co-produce work.
The future looks bright. We plan to roll this out as part of our core offer to other primary schools, led by the named School Nurse for the school. A big challenge moving forward will be how we keep momentum and keep those School Nurse Champions motivated and engaged. We are exploring options of sharing practice days to keep the champions in touch with our service, each other and other schools to build a network. This will be a key element to sustainability.
British Youth Council (2011) Know your School Nurse
British Youth Council (2016) School Nurse Champions
Rice, F; Frederickson, N and Seymour, J (2011), ‘Assessing pupil concerns about transition to secondary school’ British Journal of Education Psychology, 81(2) pp.244-263 doi.org/10.1348/000709910X519333