MEDICAL OFFICERS OF
SCHOOLS ASSOCIATION

Professionals providing healthcare for
children and young people in schools.

Epsom college

MOSA was founded in 1884 in response to "the need for the general adoption of more definite rules for guarding our great educational establishments from the outbreak and spread of preventable infectious disease".

In 2014, the Association was 130 years old and today it is a professional organisation concerned with the provision of medical care to mainly independent schools. Most of MOSA’s members are general practitioners who are medical officers to schools in their practice areas.

The business of the Association is conducted by the council of MOSA which meets three times a year and is made up of both current and retired school medical officers and nurses. The day to day running of MOSA is the responsibility of the executive secretary together with one of the officers, the hon. secretary, who is a practising school doctor.

Generally, two meetings a year are held for members, one in London in January or February, which may be in collaboration with another organisation such as the Boarding Schools Association, and which will include MOSA’s AGM, and a second meeting in May or June usually hosted by a member at his or her own school.

Following a landmark proposal that was passed at the AGM in 2015, membership was opened to any healthcare professional currently or previously registered with an appropriate, professionally recognised organisation. This meant that, for example, school nurses were eligible to join as full members and, indeed, a number have done so including three nurses who are now members of council. Non-clinicians working in a school setting, such as members of the teaching profession, are eligible to be associate members. Currently, the Association has over 250 members in all parts of the United Kingdom and the recruitment of more members is an active, ongoing process.

Sir Eric Anderson, formerly Headmaster and then Provost of Eton College, wrote in his 2005 book, “Residential and Boarding Education and Care for Young People: a Model for Good Practice”: -

"The aim of any residential setting must be to maintain and, if possible, improve the health and medical condition of each young person. Health refers to general well-being and comprises physical health covering the functions of the body, mental health subsuming intellectual, psychological, emotional, spiritual and social health, and societal health which refers to the environment in which the young person lives."

Wise words indeed and an ethos to which every member of MOSA will subscribe.

New membership costs £170 and is available to any healthcare professional currently or previously registered with an appropriate, professionally-recognised body. This includes school medical officers, dental practitioners and nurses. The new membership year begins on 1st April and six-month membership is available to new members joining after 1st October.

Please contact the executive secretary for further details at executive.secretary@mosa.org.uk

Initial annual subscription costs can be paid by cheque or bank transfer with subsequent years being paid by direct debit. There will be an online payment processing system available shortly.

Benefits of full membership include:

  • Two or three newsletters per year from the hon. secretary.
  • Full access to all members’ meetings with a reduced registration fee.
  • Advice and support available from all members of Council.
  • Access to the members’ section of this website.
    • A number of clinical and administrative guidelines covering a range of topics relevant to the healthcare professional in the school setting.
    • Archived council minutes.
    • Archived newsletters.
    • Archived presentations from educational meetings.
  • The MOSA Forum which is an email discussion forum giving instant access to opinions, experience and advice from fellow professionals.

Associate membership is available to non-clinicians working in a school setting and would be of benefit to, for example, members of the teaching profession who have a connection with pastoral or medical care at their school.

An annual clinical meeting is held, usually in January or February, usually at a venue in London, at the same time as the Association’s AGM. The 2015 event took place at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London while the 2016 one was held at Eton College, Berkshire. In recent years mid-week, rather than a Saturday, has become the favoured time for this meeting, thus enabling members to take legitimate study leave from their practices rather than giving up precious weekend family and leisure time.

The programme is put together by the hon. programme secretary together with the assistance of the executive secretary and the chosen topics for the papers and the structure of the day are overseen by MOSA Council. On occasions, the meeting has been held in collaboration with another professional body, for example the 2015 meeting was, in fact, a joint one with the Boarding Schools Association (BSA).

The theme was managing an unexpected outbreak of an infectious disease in a boarding school and there were excellent presentations from Public Health England, the BSA, MOSA itself, as well as a particularly thought-provoking paper by Professor John Ashton, the often controversial public health expert.

An annual summer meeting is also arranged and tends to be a more relaxed affair. It is often held at a member’s school and, for example, Marlborough College was the location for the May 2015 meeting when PSHE was the theme. In May 2016, the Association met at St. John’s School, Leatherhead, Surrey. One highlight of these meetings is the customary tour of the school when delegates get the chance to meet some pupils, visit the medical centre, see many of the school’s academic and sporting facilities and observe how the care for staff and pupils is provided by the MOSA member at that particular institution.

Although in previous years MOSA always held a formal, black tie dinner after the annual clinical meeting and AGM, and usually after the summer meeting as well, this practice has fallen out of favour recently leaving some delegates to pursue their own informal get-together with an early evening supper at a local restaurant. Formal or informal, MOSA’s educational days always feature learning and the sharing of ideas in an atmosphere of general conviviality, enhanced in recent years by the increasing attendance of school nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as school medical officers.

An extremely valuable and well-used benefit of MOSA membership is the MOSA Forum which is an on-line, email discussion group run by Yahoo where members who have signed up can post comments, ask questions and exchange ideas. The topics are often diverse but the debate is always fascinating and invariably provides learning points that members can take away to their own schools and practices.