The term paediatrician can mean different things; as consultants for children’s problems in a hospital, a child may see a community paediatrician as a young child in a development centre, prior to beginning school, or a child may see a school doctor as part of a program of children’s health screening.
Every school has a school doctor. His/her job includes helping with health related school policies and overseeing the work of nurses, e.g. when they are carrying out various tests for hearing/sight problems.
If a child with a known health problem is starting school, it is the job of the school doctor to inform the teachers and other staff of any particular health requirements and to train classroom assistants if injections or other medical procedures are required. Children with conditions such as asthma, are usually treated in the community rather than in school.
When a child has an annual statement review, or is undergoing the statementing procedure, their health needs are assessed also and the school doctor is part of this team.
If a teacher suspects a pupil may have a problem, it is always important to discuss it with the parents first. They should ask for advice from their GP. If a teacher suspects a child may need the services of other professionals, e.g. an occupational therapist, then he/she should consult the school doctor who can begin the referral procedure.