Information for schools

Schools are ideally placed to spot the early symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) in children.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is a long-term condition. It means that there is inflammation in one or more joints, which is not caused by an infection or injury. Symptoms begin before the age of 16.

Children with JIA have inflamed joints.

  • They are sometimes swollen or warm to the touch, but sometimes inflammation is hard to spot.

  • Their joints may be painful, and they may have reduced mobility.

  • With younger children it can be difficult to tell if joints are painful or if the child is able to move them less than they could, so a general rule is to look for change: Is the child now not able to do something that they could before (such as sitting on the floor, walking, writing with a pencil)? If so, it could be because their joints are sore or less mobile.

Children with JIA can also develop uveitis, or inflammation of part of the eye. There are often no symptoms, but uveitis can cause permanent sight loss. It is very important that children who have JIA have specialist eye tests that can detect uveitis.

Where schools notice possible symptoms of JIA, it is really important that they tell the parents/carer and encourage them to visit a health professional. Teachers, teaching assistants, SENCOs and other education professionals can also be strong positive advocates, encouraging parents to keep going back to their health professionals if they are not satisfied with the answer they get.

Not every child with joint pain or reduced mobility will have JIA. But every child with joint pain or reduced mobility should be assessed by a health professional promptly and thoroughly.

Download a copy of My JIA, a comprehensive guide to life with JIA. It includes a section packed full of information for schools, giving you tips on how you can support a child with JIA in your setting.