Enhancing the health and social wellbeing of children and young people living with HIV

Talking to the School

If you decide you do want to talk to the school about HIV in your family, you may want to talk it through first with a nurse or support service. They can help you prepare what you are going to say to the school, and they may also be happy to come with you if you feel this could help.

When deciding who you want to tell in the school, you are probably going to need to start with the Head Teacher as they are the person with lead responsibility. Make an appointment with them and plan what you are going to say.

Think about the following things:

  • Decide exactly what you want from this meeting. Make a list on a piece of paper and take it with you.
  • Consider if there is anyone you want to go to the school with you. This could be a nurse, someone from a support service, a family member or friend. Or you may prefer go on your own - this is about what you feel most comfortable with.
  • You need to decide who in the school you want to know. We suggest the Head Teacher, and then a member of staff your child likes. If your school has a school nurse based there you may want to consider telling them. You need to be clear that they are the only people who will have this information and that only you can decide if more people are told.
  • Explain how important confidentiality is for you, and how you need to leave their office knowing that they will keep the information you have given them safe. You could use a confidentiality agreement to help you make this very clear and make sure the information is limited to these people.
  • Schools keep computer records on all pupils, so you need to decide whether you are happy for this information to go on that record. If you are not, you must state this clearly. If you are, you need to ask them who can access the records. You could suggest HIV is recorded as a “chronic health problem”, but not named. The records can highlight who has access to the information about the health condition. Some computer recording systems have areas which are password protected where confidential information is stored; you could ask whether the school can do this with your HIV information.
  • Find out what will happen to this information when you’re child leaves this school. They may be going onto secondary school, or you may move. You need to make it clear that the school should not pass this information on, as you will want to plan how you share this information with the next school.
  • Decide what you want to happen next. You could ask that once a year all those who know meet up to check everything is going well and talk through any problems, or you may decide that no further action needs to be taken.
  • The Head Teacher may want to learn more about HIV to understand better how to support your child. It may help to tell them how HIV affects your family. You can also suggest they look at this website in the professionals section. You could offer to put them in touch with your nurse or a support service that could explain more. There is a guide for schools that you can tell them about, or print off and take with you.