This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Decline in school nursing leaves vulnerable children at risk

Written by: | Published:

School nurses are key to helping children School nurses are key to helping children

The decline in school nurses may be putting vulnerable children at risk the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said.

Figures launched at the RCN's School Nurses Conference on 25 August show that that number of school nursing posts has plummeted by 13% since 2012 to just 2606 now left in the NHS.

However, a recent investigation found that there were 5500 sexual assaults in the school environment during a three-year period, including one rape nearly every school day. A survey by the NUS suggested that half of students learned about sex through porn, while two thirds received no information about consent in sexual and relationship education (SRE) lessons at school.

Ongoing staff cuts to the school nursing service means that they are unable to work with schools to provide effective education for pupils. Without this education, children and young people are at risk from sexual exploitation and assault, mental health problems and sexual infection.

'School nurses are there for all children and young people, providing support, encouraging healthy lifestyles and protecting those who are most vulnerable. They have the training and expertise to really drive forward effective SRE in schools. However, with numbers dropping all the time, school nurses simply don’t have the capacity to follow this through,' says Fiona Smith, the professional lead for children and young people's nursing at the RCN.

She added that the government should be prioritising this expertise – not cutting the roles. 'The RCN supports the call for compulsory SRE in all schools, but we need the workforce that can deliver this crucial aim and make sure all children and young people are safe and healthy.'

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.



Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.