As we all know the vast majority of teachers will have no medical background whatsoever except for their own medical CVs.
Most are not trained first-aiders and very few will be qualified nurses, paramedics or doctors.
Despite these shortcomings, all children will regard their teacher as someone who can diagnose and treat everything under the sun and at the drop of a hat.
They will approach us with headaches and tummy-aches and various other symptoms but our responses are the same:
“I think you might need some fresh air so let’s see how you are after break.”
“It’s nearly home-time so if you can just hang on for a while.”
“Chloe, I’m not a doctor. I think you just need to sit down.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing serious.”
Of course, Google-eyed children are not easily fobbed off because their research will have taken them to websites where they have been able to self-diagnose; they are merely asking us for confirmation:
Child: “Mr Dabell, my pulse has increased, I’ve got a high fever, I feel really weak and I’ve been vomiting. I think it might be Blackwater Fever.”
Me: “I’m sure you’ll be fine, now get changed for PE.”
Although children know their teachers are pretty useless at dealing with health issues, that doesn’t stop them from asking. They need to know they are being listened to even though they will get scant sympathy.
Children are beginning to learn that it is almost impossible to be ill at school. Even if they crawl on their hands and knees foaming at the mouth and collapse on the floor next to their teacher’s desk, they are likely to be met with:
“Have you finished page 12 already James?!”
Children know that being ill isn’t really an option at school because they are told every five minutes they have to be resilient and soldier on instead. It’s especially hard for them when their teacher says,
“I’ve got an awful cold and haven’t slept but do you hear me moaning about it?!”
Of course, teachers don’t stand a chance. They have their own wellbeing issues to deal with and they spend most of the day dodging coughs and sneezes and because there are virtually no school nurses to consult with, illness is best just batted away for six. It’s everyone for themselves.