Support for pupils with health conditions


Caption:One of the presentations was by cystic fibrosis nurse, Louise Halfpenny.

13 October 2017

Schools from all over Essex took part in an education day in Colchester designed to help them support children with health conditions.

The free all-day event at Colchester General Hospital was organised and run by the Children’s Clinical Nurse Specialist Team which is based in the Children’s Department of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.

Most of the speakers at An Introduction to Supporting Children with Health Conditions in Schools were specialist nurses who gave presentations on a range of conditions, including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, bladder and bowel continence, and cancer.

Sarah Hays, Transition Sister, said a total of about 50 representatives from mainstream, special and independent schools attended, including teaching assistants, SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) and school nurses.

“We had schools from all over the county take part, although most of them were from the Colchester, Tendring and Halstead area,” she said.

“To get so many key people together for the whole day is a really efficient way for us to help the schools to support their children with health conditions.

“The day went very well, with a lot of questions and interest from the schools as well as plenty of positive comments.”

She added that, as far as she was aware, Colchester is the only hospital trust where specialist nurses put on a regular education day for school representatives.

Speaking immediately after the event, Jo Joyce, SENCO at Broomgrove Infant School, Wivenhoe, said: “It was a really helpful day in terms of making it clear what steps we can put in place to support children with health conditions before they join us.”

Melina Hayers, Student Services Administrator at Shenfield High School, said: “Young people with conditions like diabetes, asthma and epilepsy are commonplace in schools so the day was an excellent opportunity to learn important information about these and other conditions.

“I was also impressed by the support that Colchester offers to help young people through the transition from childhood to adulthood.”

People attending the day were asked to complete evaluation forms and the comments made included “valuable information”, “excellent presentations”, “great day”, “lovely staff” and “brilliant day – thank you very much”.

The Children’s Clinical Nurse Specialist Team has provided an education day annually for Essex schools since 2014, the year before the Department of Education issued guidance to schools on supporting pupils with medical conditions. The attendance this year was double that of 2016.

Mrs Hays said the Trust was unusual in that it provides care for children both in hospital and the community. Some of its staff visit children in nurseries, schools and at home to support them and their families, she added.