Healthy Child Programme: primary school

Help for you and your child as they grow

The Healthy Child Programme promotes children's health and development by offering support and information to children and families in Haringey.

The section of the programme aimed at 5 to 19-year-olds is led by school nursing services from Whittington Health NHS Trust (external link), working in partnership with Haringey Council. 

Primary school

Preparing for school

Your child should have received their routine vaccinations (external link) by the time they start primary school. If they haven’t, contact your GP to get them up to date. 

Free school meals

Your child will receive free school meals when they're in reception, Year 1 and Year 2, if they're in a government-funded school. 

Your child may be eligible for further free school meals when they move into Year 3 if a parent or guardian fits the eligibility criteria. More information on free school meals

Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) 

If you have a child with Special Education Needs or a disability, find out the support available from the Haringey Local Offer support service. This includes information on your child’s health needs, money and preparing your child for adulthood. It also covers their education needs up to age 25.

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School health

Haringey Council commissions Whittington Health NHS Trust to provide the School Nursing service to all state-maintained schools in the borough. 

Each school will have a school nurse who you can contact if you have any worries about your child’s health. The school nurse will be able to carry out a health assessment on your child if requested.  

Vaccinations at primary school

Vaccination UK provides vaccinations for school-aged children in Haringey, on behalf of NHS England.

If your child starts school and they haven't had all their vaccinations, the school nurse will be able to provide information and advice. They can be emailed at

Vaccination UK also offers catch-up clinics for children who have missed being vaccinated at school. Email the team at

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children, with potentially serious complications. The children’s flu vaccine is offered as a yearly nasal spray to children aged 2 to 10, and your child will be offered this at school or by their GP. 

National Child Measurement Programme 

When your child starts school, their height and weight will be measured and their Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated. This happens once in reception (aged 4 to 5) and then in year 6 (aged 10 to 11). This is part of The National Child Measurement Programme (external link), which assesses overweight and obesity levels in children in primary schools. 

The information gathered will help to reduce childhood obesity in Haringey, which is prevalent in the borough. You will receive a letter from your child’s school nurse with more information about this before the measurements taking place. 

Health screening in reception


Children aged 4-5 years in reception classes will have their vision tested to detect any problems early, so they can be treated to avoid permanent visual impairment. 

Vision screening in Haringey is carried out by orthoptists, who are part of the North Middlesex University Hospital (NMUH) Community Orthoptics Service. It's offered to all reception-aged children in state maintained primary schools. Children attending Free Schools can be referred to the Community Orthoptics team.

Children who are privately educated and those who are home-educated should contact their GP or local optometrist.

As a parent or carer, you will receive a letter at the start of the school term, inviting your child to the vision screening program. 


You should book an appointment with your GP if you suspect your child has a hearing problem. Your GP will make a referral to an audiology department for further tests if needed. Your child’s school nurse can also make a referral following a health assessment. For further information, visit the NHS Hearing site (external link)

Healthy Schools Programme 

As a borough, we are working to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Our Healthy Schools Programme aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Haringey by working with local schools to:

  • encourage healthy eating
  • reduce sugar intake
  • increase water consumption
  • improve physical activity

Schools in Haringey which have signed up to the Healthy Schools programme can be awarded either Bronze, Silver or Gold status. This recognises that they have improved health and wellbeing outcomes for pupils and staff, and the wider school community. 

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Oral health

NHS dental care is free for all children until they're 18. Children should be registered with a dentist (external site) as soon as their first teeth appear and before their first birthday. 

You should brush your child’s teeth until they are 7 to make sure they're cleaning them correctly. Children from the age of 7 should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to watch them to make sure they brush properly.

Establishing good habits can help your child avoid oral health problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

The best snacks for children are fruit and raw vegetables. Dried fruit is high in sugar and can be bad for teeth.

It's important that all children: 

  • brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for about 2 minutes
  • keep sugary foods to meal time only (including dried fruit)
  • drink water or milk, which are best for teeth
  • brush their teeth at night before bed and at least on 1 other occasion during the day
  • use family toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm of fluoride (check the packaging to be sure)
  • use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste
  • spit don't rinse – if they rinse, the fluoride won't work as well

Whittington Health Community Dental Services Oral Health Promotion team supports residents to help them improve their oral health. This includes providing oral health advice for parents, carers and teachers of children with special educational needs, and practical tooth-brushing advice for children.

If you would like any information about the programmes, call the Haringey OHP team on 0203 224 4672.

Further information on oral health from the NHS (external link).

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Common health conditions in school aged children 

These are the most common health conditions in school aged children, according to our school nursing team in Haringey:

For children to thrive at home and in school, it's important they receive the best care and support for any medical conditions they have. This will help them keep healthy, reducing their chances of being off sick from school, and allowing them to achieve their full potential. Be aware of these common conditions and contact your GP if you think your child is affected.

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Staying healthy 

Healthy eating

It's important to encourage children to eat a healthy, varied diet to help ensure they get all the necessary nutrients they need to be healthy. 

Children should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

From the age of 5, children’s diet should be based on the principles of the Eatwell Guide (external link) and include:

  • plenty of starchy carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, oats, couscous and other grains)
  • fruit and vegetables
  • some protein and dairy foods

One portion is the amount they can fit into the palm of their hand. 

When your child starts school, you may choose to send them in with a packed lunch. It's important to know what to include in their lunch box, as hidden sugars in fruit juices and yoghurts may increase their risk of obesity and tooth decay.

We have produced a packed lunch guide (PDF, 6.1MB) to help you decide what to include in your child’s lunch box.

Change4life also has recipe ideas for healthier lunchboxes for your children (external site). See the Change 4 Life sugar swaps (external link) for healthier alternatives to cereals, drinks and snacks. 

You can also download the free Change4Life Food Scanner app to find out the hidden sugars in the food you buy. 

As a council, we're also committed to increasing the amount of water residents drink. As part of our Sugar Smart campaign, schools are encouraged to pledge to serve water and plain milk only. 

Residents can download the free Refill app (external site) to see where you can fill up reusable water bottles for free.

Physical activity

With easy access to mobile phones, tablets and other devices, children are using screens at a much younger age than in the past.

Sitting in front of screens for long periods may lead to a sedentary lifestyle. This increases the risk of obesity and mental health problems and may affect their educational attainment. 

The NHS recommends that children and young people aged 5 to 18 should be active for at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day. This can include things like cycling, walking to school and playground activities.

Primary schools are encouraged to participate in The Daily Mile (external link) to improve the health and wellbeing of their pupils. If your child is in a school which takes part, they will either walk, jog or run for 15 minutes a day. 

You can also increase both your and your child’s physical activity by choosing to walk to school.

Walking Zone maps in Haringey have been created with schools to improve the safety and journey for pupils who walk to school. There are also several other walking initiatives such as The Walking Teddy Club (external site) and Walk It (external link) which help to plan walking routes. 

Parks and green spaces are also great places to increase the whole family's physical activity. 

Emotional health and wellbeing

Haringey is committed to helping children, young people and families thrive, with high levels of mental health and wellbeing.

In Haringey, key messaging around resilience, mental health and wellbeing is part of The Anchor Approach. This provides education settings with information, advice and support to strengthen wellbeing and resilience for the whole school.

Contact your child's school's Emotional Wellbeing Lead if you have any queries about their mental health or wellbeing. 

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Keeping safe

Bullying and online safety

Bullying is any behaviour which hurts someone. This can range from name calling, spreading rumours, threatening and undermining someone to physical violence such as pushing and hitting. 

Bullying can happen anywhere, and children are at a particular risk of bullying online, known as cyberbullying. Unlike bullying in the real world, children facing cyberbullying are followed by it wherever they go.

If you're concerned that your child may be bullied online or in real life:

Under 11s

It can sometimes be difficult to talk to the people closest to you about bullying, particularly when you're young. If your child would like to talk to someone outside the family about bullying, you could encourage them to contact Childline (external link) online or by calling 0800 1111. Calls are free and confidential. Childline has lots of advice about different types of bullying, and tools to help children and young people. 

Safety Net has a really useful Worry Box area (external link) that covers subjects like bullying and online safety in an age-appropriate way.

Children can also visit The Hideout (external link) for information on domestic abuse and its effects on the young.

Online safety

The Safer Internet Centre has age-appropriate advice for children ages 3 to 11, to keep them safe online (external link).

The NSPCC has an online safety area (external link) with advice for parents on a wide range of subjects, including live streaming and gaming.

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Transition to secondary school

Moving to secondary school is an exciting time in a child’s life. It’s the next step in their journey to becoming an adult.

It can also be an anxious time, and many children worry whether they will make friends in their new school, what their new teachers will be like, what the journey to school will hold for them and what will happen to the friends they've already made. 

To help with this, Young Minds has created a film (external link) which reassures children that they're not alone in feeling worried about starting secondary school. Although aimed at schools, you could show it to your child before they start Year 7 to ease any anxious feelings they may be having. 

Young Minds has also teamed up with Beano studios to create a series of videos for children about starting a new school, including Chicken's First Day at School, below.

Note for iPhone users and Youtube. There is a known bug with iOS and Youtube, Two buttons are read before the player but provide no functionality. We advise that you skip these to access the content.

You can also share videos on how to make friends (external link) and fitting in (external link) with your child. 

Clothing grant

As your child starts secondary school, you may be eligible for a one-off clothing grant of £60. More information on clothing grants

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Page last updated:

July 5, 2021

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