In a £1.55million contract signed with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, a total of 35 staff members will be recruited, which means pupils of all ages will be able to get essential guidance and support on a range of issues, from healthy eating to wellbeing.
Public health county councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “In my view, healthy children and young people will become healthy adults. This will help them have a better lifestyle and therefore have less impact on the NHS later in life. I think scholls have lots of pressure, children these days face a lot of mental health issues and it would be a great help to those children.”
The deal will also provide nurses who work in up to 12 primary schools in Oxfordshire. As well as offering advice and support on various health issues, such as sexual health, stopping smoking and immunisations, school nurses also run health promotion campaigns, point pupils in the right direction for other specialist services and give health and development reviews in reception, Year 6 and between the ages of 14 and 17.
Dr Rebecca Cooper, public health consultant at the county council, said: “With pressure to do well increasing all the time, I believe school health nurses offer students the necessary support network they need to stay happy and healthy as they progress through their secondary education.”
And Pauline Scully, interim director of the children and families division at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Our school nurses are highly skilled and occupy a unique position in their ability to ensure children and young people’s health needs are met.”
However, due to cuts in state and local education budgets it is estimated at least 3,000 more full-time school nurses are needed, and this number should be eventually doubled.