Prior's Field September 2018

School entry health checks: what you need to know

Published by Isbi Schools on Friday 7th of September 2018 11:19:20 AM

School entry health checks take place a short while after children begin school. Your child’s height, weight, vision and hearing will be tested; this is offered to all children during the first weeks of Reception year.


The purpose of school entry health checks is to identify any health concerns that may affect children’s learning and may not have been identified previously.


The school entry health checks are carried out by trained people from the school nursing team, overseen by a qualified school nurse. A letter will probably come home beforehand, giving you the opportunity to opt out if you prefer - or you can opt to have checks carried out by your family GP instead.


The three main parts of the school entry health check are:


Vision: this is usually assessed using a standard sight test, like you would have at the optician. Where children don’t yet know the letters of the alphabet, pictures with different colours are used instead.


Hearing: this is tested using a series of sounds with different volumes and frequencies. Children are asked to press a button or do something similar each time they hear a sound.


Growth: this part of the test can be controversial, as children’s height and weight is measured and their BMI is calculated. Children are then placed in a category: underweight; healthy weight; overweight or very overweight. This is based on evidence that children who are overweight at this age are more likely to become overweight adults. This can sound worrying for children, but the weighing and measuring is carried out in private, and children are fully clothed. The results of this test are not shared with the school or with other pupils.



Once the tests are completed, you will receive a letter with your child’s results. For many children, there will be no further action required. It is important to note though that these are only screening tests and cannot diagnose any issues - so a follow-up visit to the GP or optician may be required. If the tests have identified an urgent issue, the team will contact you by phone to discuss what happens next.


Children’s height and weight are recorded by the local NHS to provide a clearer picture of children in the area. This allows them to assess and plan services for children. If your child is found to be overweight you may be offered additional support, or things like free access to the local swimming pool or a visit from a health visitor to help.


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