CPD Module: Back to School


  • Background
  • School healthcare policy
  • Healthcare plans and medicines
  • Immunological conditions
  • Food allergy and anaphylaxis
  • Head lice
  • Verrucae
  • 'Nasty bugs'
  • Useful resources
  • References
  • Action & Evaluation


Children’s illnesses account for over half of all occasions children do not attend school. In 2015-16, absence due to illness was 2.6% in England, down from 2.8% the previous year, but 83% of children had still had time off due to illness at some point during the year.1

The most common illnesses leading to school absence were the common cold, sore throat, stomach bugs, ear infection and conjunctivitis in 2009.2 However, current NICE and NHS Choices advice on minor ailments says children should ordinarily attend school even with:3,4,5

·      head lice

·      conjunctivitis (unless the child is feeling particularly unwell)

·      minor coughs or cold

·      minor headache

·      sore throat if not accompanied with fever

Temporary absence is recommended for:5

·      more severe headaches or colds accompanied by a raised temperature, shivering or drowsiness;

·      fever - children should not return until 24 hours after starting to feel better;

·      rashes suggesting the start of infections like chickenpox or measles;

·      vomiting/diarrhoea - children should “definitely be kept off school until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have gone.”