The school health service
The school health service is a free service for all pupils at primary, lower and upper secondary schools. The school health service offers help and support from public health nurses and sometimes also school doctors, physiotherapists and psychologists. Employees of the school health service are covered by a duty of confidentiality.
The purpose of the school health service is to work with schools to promote the health, well-being and learning of students, and improve their health literacy.
What is the school health service?
The school health service is aimed at children and adolescents aged between 5 and 20. The service’s public health nurses can answer any questions you may have and discuss any issues you would like to talk about. You can also contact the service if you have a friend who is in need of help or guidance. The school health service also offers:
- School start assessment (in 1st grade at primary school)
- Group and class teaching concerning physical, mental and sexual health, etc.
- Health review in 8th grade
- Weighing and measurement
- Drop-in service
You do not need an appointment in order to speak to a public health nurse or other health professional in the school health service. All you have to do is turn up (‘drop-in’). You also do not need permission from your parents to talk to a public health nurse at school.
You can ask and talk to a public health nurse about anything you are wondering about. It often helps to speak to a specialist in confidence. You can get advice and guidance concerning issues such as:
- body and health
- gender identity
- problems with friends or family
- difficult thoughts
- feelings, and
Sometimes you need more help. In this case, the school health service will be able to put you in touch with a general practitioner, dentist, physiotherapist, psychologist or other specialist.
If you see a public health nurse at school, it can be a good idea to get confirmation that you have seen them, to make sure your absence is not marked down as unauthorised. To find out when the public health nurse is available at your school, ask your teacher or visit the school's website for more information.
Healthcare professionals have a duty of confidentiality
Employees in the school health service are subject to a strict duty of confidentiality. This means they will not normally be allowed to disclose what you talk to them about. If you have spoken to a health professional (such as a public health nurse or school doctor), they will not be able to disclose to anyone else the reason for your visit or what you talked about.
When you are 12 years old
If you are under the age of 12, healthcare professionals will, in most cases, have to tell your parents both that you have used the school health service and what you talked about.
If you are over 12, you can ask for your parents not to be informed. Nevertheless, it is the healthcare professional who will make this decision in these cases.
When you are 16 years old
If you are over 16, information about you will not be shared with your parents without your permission. Giving such permission is known as giving consent.
The healthcare professional will sometimes be able to disclose information to your parents even when you are over 16, if they need the information in order to fulfil their parental responsibilities. In such cases, you will be informed that the healthcare professional will contact your parents.
Health professionals sometimes need to disclose information about you, e.g. to the police or the child welfare services, if there is a risk that you may harm yourself or others, or if it is clear that you are having problems at home.
Health centre for adolescents
If you are unable to contact the school health service, young people between the ages of 12 and 20 (some clinics offer services up to the age of 24) can get help at a health clinic for adolescents (helsestasjon for ungdom or HFU).
To find your nearest health clinic for adolescents, visit your municipality's website for more information.
What does the school health service do?
The school health service aims to promote good health among children and adolescents, to improve their life skills and well-being and enable them to see structure in their school life.
Through meetings with children, adolescents and parents, the school health service aims to give advice and guidance in order to promote the mental and physical health of children and adolescents, and to prevent illness and injury. This also means that the public health nurse will talk to everyone about violence, neglect and drug use.
Information about the service
The public health nurse at the school will attend parent meetings and participate in teaching to explain to pupils how they can contact the school health service, as well as inform about the opening hours and what the service can offer. Information about the school health service can be found on the school's website.
Parents can ask the school health service for help
The school health service works with the school and acts as a link between pupils, the school and other health services such as general practitioners, the municipal mental health services, dental health services and NAV, and can refer pupils for further assessment if necessary.
Parents can involve the school health service in the case of certain health challenges which impact learning. If necessary, the school health service can provide special support and closer follow-up. This may be particularly relevant in, for example, cases involving bullying or challenges at home.
School start survey
When a child starts 1st grade, the school health service will offer a health assessment with the public health nurse and a medical examination of the child. The school start survey will be conducted at the school, and the child’s parents will be invited to attend.
The public health nurse will talk to you about topics such as:
- sleep and sleeping problems
- physical activity, leisure activity and sedentary lifestyle
- dental health
- accidents and injuries
- violence, abuse and neglect
You can also bring up any issues you are wondering about concerning your child's health or any other matters which affect your child's well-being. You will be offered follow-up reviews if necessary.
Your child will be examined, weighed and measured in their underwear by the doctor. The doctor will also establish whether your child has any medical conditions and what, if any, conditions they have had in the past. The doctor will:
- listen to the child's heart and lungs
- examine the child's
- motor skills
- muscles and joints, and
- whether the testicles of boys have descended into the scrotum
Girls from cultures where female circumcision is practised will be offered a discussion and an abdominal examination.
Health review in 8th grade
When you start lower secondary school, you will be offered a health review and discussion with the public health nurse during which you will be weighed and measured in your underwear. Your parents will be informed about the health review and the fact that you will be weighed and measured, but they will not attend the review itself.
The nurse will first and foremost talk to you about any issues that you would like to discuss. The public health nurse can also talk to you about:
- life skills and well-being
- sleep and sleeping habits
- diet and eating habits
- physical activity and sedentary lifestyle
- dental health
- sexual health
- snuff, smoking, alcohol and drugs
- violence, abuse and neglect
- information about the GP service
- social media
Other relevant issues which you could bring up include:
- thoughts and feelings
- arguments and quarrelling
- family relationships
- problems at home
- school life and absence
- learning difficulties
- exercise and "the perfect body"
- the body and puberty
- sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- orientation, gender identity and love
Weighing and measurement
All pupils are weighed and measured in 1st, 3rd and 8th grade, and in some cases also in the first year of upper secondary school. Specific measurements will also be taken when necessary. Weight and height measurements provide important information about the pupils' development, weight and health, and are essential to detect excessive weight gain.
Taking measurements at the start of a child’s schooling makes it possible to monitor their development from early age and onwards. Taking measurements in 3rd grade is a good time to detect the early signs of puberty and encourage appropriate changes in response to any unhealthy lifestyle habits that the child might have. In 8th grade, measurements enable personal discussions about how puberty affects the body.
Weighing and measurements over and above this take place at the request of the child, the adolescent or the parents themselves.
You will be told about the weighing and height measurements in advance. You will be given background information to the measurements and told the aim of the measurements, practical arrangements and any follow-up. Every child is different and it is therefore important that children follow their curve on the percentile chart. Parents will only attend weighing and measuring sessions for their child as part of the school start assessment.
The school health service offers vaccination to all children who are resident in Norway in accordance with the Child Immunisation Programme. Pupils will be offered vaccination at school when they are:
7-8 years (2nd grade)
The child will receive the four-component vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and poliomyelitis (DTP-IPV) (in Norwegian), which is given as a single injection.
11-12 years (6th grade)
The child will receive the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) (in Norwegian), which is given as a single injection.
12-13 years (7th grade)
The child will receive the vaccine against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) (in Norwegian). This vaccination consists of two doses given at least six months apart.
This vaccine protects against cervical cancer in women and other HPV-related cancers in both sexes.
15-16 years (10th grade)
The child will receive a booster dose of the four-component vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and poliomyelitis (DTP-IPV), which is given as a single injection.