Asthma at school and nursery

Find out how to keep your child safe at school or nursery if they have asthma or suspected asthma.

Talking to your child's school or nursery

If your child has asthma or suspected asthma, make sure their school or nursery knows. 

Tell teachers and staff about your child’s asthma. It’s important to make sure your child’s school or nursery knows about their asthma, so they can help your child stay well. Find out who is in charge of asthma at your child’s school or nursery, you could invite them to the meeting too. 

Give your child’s school or nursery a school asthma card. This card keeps everything staff need about your child’s asthma or suspected asthma in one place, including information about their triggers, symptoms, and medicines. It also explains what to do if your child has an asthma attack.

Do you feel like you’re not getting the support you need from your child’s school or nursery?

If you want to talk to somebody, you can chat with expert asthma nurses on our helpline (from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays). 

You can also join our Parent and Carer Support Network and our Health Unlocked forum. These are safe and friendly spaces where you can share your experiences with other parents and carers who are going through the same things as you.

What questions should I ask? 

These sample questions might help you talk to your child’s school or nursery. Your child will get the best care if you all work together. 

Tell your child’s school or nursery the best way to contact you, so they can keep you up to date. 

It’s a good idea to tell your child’s school or nursery if there’s anything new they should know about that could affect your child’s asthma. For example, if your child has changed asthma medicines, has a cold, or has been using their reliever inhaler more.

There is a lot of free and low-cost training available to teachers and school staff. For example, they can complete Education for Health’s free training course about supporting children with asthma.

Find out what medical policies your child’s school or nursery has in place to keep your child safe. It’s also a good idea to ask about the school or nursery’s attendance policy because your child might have to miss school or nursery if they have GP appointments or feel unwell because of their asthma. 

Your child needs be able to use their reliever inhaler (usually blue) as soon as they get asthma symptoms, so it should be close to them at all times. Make sure that your child’s inhaler is not kept somewhere hard to reach in an emergency, like a locked cupboard. It’s a good idea to check where the school or nursery will keep your child’s inhaler during PE lessons and other activities too.

If your child is older and can take their inhaler alone, they could keep their inhaler in their school bag or pocket.  

Your child needs be able to use their reliever inhaler (usually blue) as soon as they get asthma symptoms. They should keep it with them at all times. Schools and nurseries are allowed to keep emergency reliever inhalers for students to use if their own is not available. 

Does your child have a school asthma card?

Take our short survey and tell us how we can improve our resources for children with asthma. 

 

 

Going to secondary school

When your child goes to secondary school, it’s a good idea for them to start managing their asthma themselves. When this happens, encourage your child to: 

  • take their preventer medicines every day, as prescribed
  • check that their reliever inhaler (usually blue) and spacer are in their bag before leaving for school every day. They should keep it with them at all times, especially during PE or on school trips
  • know when they need to use their reliever inhaler and what to do if they have an asthma attack
  • find out where their school keeps their emergency reliever inhalers, in case they forget their own
  • use their asthma action plan to help them manage their asthma. This keeps everything they need to know about their asthma in one place, in case they forget. 

We have more advice to help your child transition to secondary school, including information about puberty, studying and exams. Find out more about asthma and young people.

Asthma attacks at school or nursery

Give school or nursery staff a school asthma card. This lists your child’s asthma symptoms and has clear instructions about what to do if they have an asthma attack.

If a child has an asthma attack

  1. Help them to sit up. Do not let them lie down. Try to keep them calm.
  2. Help them take one puff of their reliever inhaler (with their spacer, if they have it) every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a total of 10 puffs.
  3. If they don’t have their reliever inhaler, or it’s not helping, or if you are worried at any time, call 999 for an ambulance.
  4. If the ambulance has not arrived after 10 minutes and their symptoms are not improving, repeat step 2.
  5. If their symptoms are no better after repeating step 2, and the ambulance has still not arrived, contact 999 again immediately. 

This asthma attack advice does not apply to children who are over 12 years old and have been prescribed a Maintenance and Reliever Therapy (MART) inhaler. The asthma attack advice for a MART inhaler is different. Read our asthma attack advice for MART.

Back-to-school asthma attacks

Every September, there’s a rise in the number of children in the UK who go to hospital because of asthma attacks.  There are a lot of reasons for this. 

Some children get out of routine during the summer holidays and do not take their preventer medicines every day as prescribed. This can lead to their asthma being poorly controlled when they go back to school. 

Your child could also be exposed to asthma triggers when they go back to school or nursery, for example: 

  • air pollution
  • colds and flu
  • dust mites
  • strong emotions, like fear, stress and excitement
  • physical activity
  • mould 
  • pollen. 

Manage your child's asthma well

Managing your child’s asthma well can help to control their symptoms and avoid asthma attacks. Find out how to manage your child’s asthma

Be prepared for an emergency

Your child needs be able to use their reliever inhaler (usually blue) as soon as they get asthma symptoms.  They should keep it with them at all times.
Make sure your child takes their reliever inhaler to school or nursery every day. If they use a spacer, make sure they take this too. 

You could also ask your GP for an extra reliever inhaler and spacer and give these to your child's school or nursery. The school or nursery should keep them somewhere easy to get to, in case your child needs to use them quickly. Do not store them in a locked cupboard.

Some schools and nurseries keep emergency reliever inhalers that students can use if their own is not available. For example, your child’s reliever inhaler might be lost or broken. 

If you would like your child to be able to use one of these, you have to give their school or nursery consent.  You can do this with our school asthma card

Children with suspected asthma can use an emergency inhaler as long as they have been prescribed a reliever inhaler.  

Not all schools and nurseries have emergency inhalers. If your child’s school or nursery does not have emergency reliever inhalers, tell them that emergency inhalers can help prevent unnecessary hospital trips and save lives. 

You may be concerned about cost and waste, but the school’s emergency inhaler should rarely need to be used if all children have access to their own inhaler and spacer.

How can teachers help?

If you’re a teacher, you could complete Education for Health’s free training course about supporting children with asthma. The course only takes around 45 minutes and will help you give your students with asthma the right support. You could encourage other members of staff to do this too. 

There are also simple things you can do in the classroom to help keep children with asthma safe.

Try to

  • Learn what to do if a child has an asthma attack
  • Make sure you have a school asthma card or an Individual Healthcare Plan for each of your students with asthma. This keeps everything you need to know about their asthma in one place, including information about their symptoms, medicines and asthma triggers. 
  • Always watch children take their inhaler to make sure they’re using it properly. Younger children might need help taking their inhaler. You can use our short inhaler videos to learn the correct inhaler technique. 
  • Tell parents and carers when a child uses their inhaler or has asthma symptoms. This will help them manage their child’s asthma at home. 
  • Speak to your school or nursery about getting an emergency inhaler. Emergency inhalers can help to prevent unnecessary hospital trips and save lives. 
  • Understand asthma triggers, so that you can help your students avoid them.

Avoid

  • Do not leave children alone if they have asthma symptoms. Stay with them until they feel better. 
  • Do not let children get their own inhalers if they have asthma symptoms. Get their inhaler for them. 
  • Do not keep spare inhalers in locked cupboards. They should be easy to reach in an emergency.
Did you find this information useful?

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 0300 222 5800 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

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