Childhood illnesses

Childhood Illnesses

A parent’s guide to managing sickness absence from school

The information here should be useful to you and hopefully minimise the spread of some of the seasonal illnesses and childhood infections. As a school we are required to follow the guidance of the Health Protection Agency in minimising the spread of infection.

Absence due to sickness from school

Occasionally pupils are too unwell to attend school. When deciding whether or not your nursery child is too ill to attend nursery school please ask yourself: 

  • Is your child well enough, physically and emotionally, to carry out the activities of the nursery school day? If not, keep your child at home and consult your GP as appropriate.
  • Does your child have a condition that could be passed on to other nursery children, babies or pregnant women or to school staff? If so, keep your child at home.
  • Would you take a day off work if you had this condition? If so, keep your child at home.

Common conditions

Most illnesses can be classified as one of a few minor health conditions. Whether or not you send your child to school will depend on how severe you judge the illness to be. This guidance can help you to make that judgement. If you are concerned about your child’s health, consult a health professional.

Coughs and cold

A child with a minor cough or cold may attend school. If the cold is accompanied by raised temperature, shivers or drowsiness, the child should stay off school, visit the GP and return to school 24 hours after they’re feeling better. If your child has a more severe and long-lasting cough, consult your GP, who can provide guidance on whether the child should stay off school.

Raised temperature

If your child has a raised temperature, they should not attend school even if you have medicated with a pain-killer such as Calpol or Nurofen. They can return 24 hours after the temperature subsides and they are feeling better.


Rashes can be the first sign of many infectious illnesses such as chickenpox and measles, which are a significant concern to children, babies and pregnant women . Children with these conditions should not attend school. If your child has a rash, check with your GP or practice nurse before sending them to school.


A child with a minor headache doesn’t usually need to be kept off school. If the headache is more severe or is accompanied by other symptoms such as raised temperature or drowsiness, then keep the child off school and consult your GP.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Children with these conditions should be kept off school. They can return to school 48 hours after their symptoms disappear. ie. 48 hours after the last bout if vomiting or diarrhoea. Most cases get better without treatment, but if symptoms persist, consult your GP.

Sore throat

A sore throat alone doesn’t have to keep a child from school. If it’s accompanied by a raised temperature, the child should stay at home.


A child who has an illness or infection that requires treatment with antibiotics should be absent from school for the first 24 hours. In most cases after this time they will no longer be infectious and if they feel well enough can return to school.

However the school is not permitted to give children antibiotics so ongoing treatment should be timed outside of school hours.

Contacting school

Please inform the school before 9.30am every day your child is absent from school due to illness.

Please telephone the school to tell us that your child will be staying at home, and tell us about the nature of the illness and the expected duration of absence from school.

If it becomes clear that your child will be away from school for longer than expected, phone the school to explain this as soon as possible.

If your child attends school and feels unwell during the school day we will contact you to arrange for your child to be collected from school. We use the emergency contact form with the phone numbers you have provided for us. We always contact those with parental responsibility first, and only contact the emergency contact person if we are unable to make contact with parents.