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Managing Viral wheeze at school (Reception)


My 4 year old son has just started Reception at primary school. He suffers with viral wheeze, which is similar to asthma symptoms but linked to whenever he has a cold virus or cough.

However, although he tends to get episodes around 4 times a year, when they come on, they can be sudden and often requiring emergency treatment, as his inhaler may not be sufficient. In these instances, it becomes life threatening.

I had a meeting with the school welfare officer, handing her key points about my son's condition, and she assured me that she will communicate to all teachers that deal with him, as well as lunch time staff.

However, I was with my son a lunchtime a week later (helping him settle in) and took the opportunity to ask a dinner lady (for his year) if she knew about his health condition. She knew nothing!

I fed this back to the head of year, who told me she would follow up straight away. I then got a phonecall from the welfare officer asking me to get my son's care plan signed by the GP. I am waiting to see if the GP would do this. In further conversation with the welfare lady, she told me that she had communicated with his teachers but not the dinner ladies, and they would only tell the dinner ladies if the GP assures them my son has a life threatening condition. I (again) told her that my son did not have a life threatening condition, and was too young for them to diagnose asthma, but did have a tendency to breathing difficulties linked to virus, and that this was sudden and often life threatening.

She went on to tell me that they would not tell the dinner lady staff, as if my boy was ill, then they would take him to the medical room. She failed to understand that often my boy does not complain of being ill, he just gets a little quiet. And unless dinner ladies know he has this tendency, they will have no idea that he is becoming ill. Also, with this problem, one needs to act fast, as has been the case many times before. When I asked her how the dinner lady was to know that he was being ill, and they would be relying on my son to actively tell someone, she refused to communicate further with me.

I have looked online for a policy on health for the school, but they quote guidelines from Dept of Health 2014, who say that GP approval is not required if a child has a health issue that can fluctuate and be serious, and it is up to the school to decide with the parents.

Can anyone help? I don't want to be a pain to the school, as my boy has only just started, but I can't risk people not knowing about his condition if they are going to take responsibility for him.

Also, I lost my Mum suddenly to NHS neglect, and don't want neglect to play a part in my son's health care at school.

Thanks in advance.

2 Replies

Hi Pamela2008

Welcome to the forum. You're certainly not being a pain to the school. I've asked the Asthma UK nurse team about your query and what's best to do and Debby has replied:

You may have already been signposted to this very important piece of statutory guidance. It was last updated in August 2017. gov.uk/government/publicati...

It clearly lays out expectations,roles and responsibilities. I would suggest you look at the box on page 9 which gives advice about what a school medical conditions policy should include. I think these two points are of particular relevance

'who is responsible for ensuring that sufficient staff are suitably trained'

'a commitment that all relevant staff will be made aware of the child’s condition'

You may find it helpful to enquire who is the named school nurse for the school. This is not the school welfare officer but a specialist public health nurse often employed by the local authority in a team which supports schools. This healthcare professional could be very 'hands on' in supporting with any concerns.

Lastly a wheeze plan may be useful. This could be either our Child Asthma Action Plan bit.ly/2rswbf0 or the Asthma/wheeze plan devised by South East Coast Strategic Clinical Network. respiratoryfutures.org.uk/m...

Both have 'traffic light' advice'. Keep this plan with you and take it every time you see the doctor or nurse at your GP surgery (or Hospital).

Hope this provides some information to help. Please feel free to give our nurses team a ring on 0300 222 5800 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

Hope that helps,



Dear Dita,

Thank you so much for your reply and this valuable information.

I am quite annoyed with the school, as the Welfare Officer had ever mentioned support by a nurse, and she just wanted to lead everything, but did say that without a GP stamp to the health information I'd provided, then they would 'just treat my child as having asthma'.....acting as though asthma was no life threatening!

I need to wait and see what they do, and in the meantime I will try and find out who the school nurse is - only thing is, if I contact them directly, then the school welfare officer will be annoyed. I have clearly annoyed her already and she seems only interested in covering herself.

Thanks again,

Kind regards.


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