Carry on School Nurse

10th February 2006 at 00:00
If your balls go black and swell up, will they drop off and kill you, miss?" yells Francis during PSHE. Somewhat startled at the question and image this conjures up, and as my balls are metaphoric not literal, I send Francis to the School Nurse.

Whatever the question, no matter how weird, you can rely on her to give a straight answer, no blushing or embarrassment. Francis returns brandishing a leaflet and with a knowledgeable air.

Ah, the School Nurse. Where would we be without her? Like many non-teaching staff, her contribution to the life of the school is frequently under-valued.

Nurse is actually a former ward sister. She's got the pristine starched white hat to prove it. Very Matron. A mixture of steely professionalism and huge caring, she can reduce even the burliest sixth-former with just a stare.

Her office, a Pantheon to pink with matching fairy lights, is a hive of activity all day long. Yet, she's not there just for wet-wipe and latex-glove traumas. She can multi-task to the nth degree.

Lost property? Gum shields to dirty socks, textbooks to mobiles, she looks after it. Need a ping-pong bat? Ask Nurse. Inflatable bananas for disco? Nurse.

Even with no one to treat, she's busy sorting out the green medical bags.

Woe betide anyone who organises a school trip without telling her and taking one of the green bags. Her presence on school trips is vital if only to mop up the vomit from too many sweets and issue staff with headache pills.

Teachers and staff all benefit from her care even if she refuses to tell who it is who has a nasty red rash on their buttocks. "It's staff," is all she will reveal, our health secrets safe with her.

Saturdays sees her at the games field "strapping" for the rugby team. I don't even know what that is, but the way she pronounces it makes it seem vital to our boys' success.

She turns her hand to any emergency, sometimes life or death, her only rule being, "I never run". Never. Nurse won't run. She glides calmly.

I am taken seriously ill in my classroom and she comes to the rescue, green bag at the ready. Next thing I know I am in casualty where she tells the staff what's wrong like she's in an episode of ER, while making me laugh.

Only later do I hear from the pupils that they knew I was seriously ill.

How? Because Nurse ran, yes ran, down the corridor to reach me in time.

School Nurses everywhere; we salute you.

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