Health and safety for school

Having large numbers of young children together in one place often can mean that accidents and illnesses are rife. When your child starts attending school, you can be sure that they will at some point come home having picked up some kind of virus or with a scraped knee and these are part of their growing up - so try not to worry too much! Some of the bugs you can expect your child to encounter are chickenpox, mumps, measles and glandular fever. Of course there's also bouts of headlice infestations, which are rather unpleasant but easily treated.

So if your child complains of illness, when should they be kept at home and when should they be sent to school?If they have a headache or sore throat or a cough then unless these symptoms are accompanied by a high temperature usually they'll be fine to go to school. If your child has a rash, is vomiting or has diarrhoea or a raised temperature, you should get them checked by a GP.

These days there are vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox but there has been a lot of concern about how safe they are. In the case of chicken pox, many parents prefer to have 'chicken pox parties' where they gather their children together with ones who have the bug in the hope that they will all catch it and therefore develop a natural immunity to it. However, the NHS advises against this practice since it is possible that complications can arise from chicken pox.

Apart from bugs and illnesses, you may also worry about your child being involved in an accident. While they are school, the teachers and staff are responsible for your child's welfare. Many schools include health and safety lessons in their curriculums. While out of school, parents may want to teach their children the Green Cross Code to encourage road safety awareness. You can also send your child on cycling proficiency courses to make sure they are safe when cycling to school. Although it is not recommended for under-11s to cycle unsupervised in traffic.

Some good places to find information about child health and safety are the NHS's website NHA Choices and the government's website