Joint memorandum by The Department of
Health and The Department for Education and Employment (PH 87)
HEALTHY SCHOOLS PROGRAMME
1. The Government's Healthy Schools Programme
was launched in 1998. It is funded and managed jointly by the
Department of Health and the Department for Education and Employment,
with the support of the Schools and Young People Team at the Health
Development Agency (HDA). It is a major investment in the future
health of the nation.
2. The aim of the programme is to give every
school the chance to become a healthy school. A healthy school
is one where:
good health and social behaviour underpin effective
learning and academic achievement, which in turn promotes long
term health gain (paragraph 4.17, "Saving Lives: Our Healthier
3. The Department of Health evidence to
this Inquiry has already referred to the link between education
and health as a way of improving the health of school age children,
both in the short and long term (paragraph 3.10).
4. The programme comprises four elements:
the National Healthy School Standard;
the Young People's Health Network;
the Wired for Health website; and
supporting programmes, such as Cooking
for Kids and Safe and Sound.
5. This memorandum deals with all of these
elements. The Standard is the main instrument by which schools
are engaged in the work of the overall programme and their efforts
formally recognised. The memorandum also outlines the context
of the establishment of the programme, considers the progress
of the programmes and examines its role as a vehicle in promoting
a range of public health partnerships.
Targets and Achievements
6. All schools are encouraged to participate
in the programme, and Ministers have set targets to reflect this
aim. These targets focus on local partnerships which draw together
Local Education Authorities (LEAs) and corresponding health authorities,
Over half of local partnerships to
have achieved accreditation under the National Healthy School
Standard by April 2001 (Number of LEAs = 150).
All partnerships to have achieved
accreditation by April 2002.
A majority of schools will have had
the opportunity to participate in the programme by April 2002
(Number of schools = 26,000).
7. 14 LEAs covering 4,589 schools have already
gained accreditation under the Standard. They are listed in Annex
1. The process of accreditation is accelerating. A further 65
LEAs are taking part in the current round of accreditation, due
to be completed in April. This is in line with the first target.
The remaining partnerships are on schedule to
gain accreditation by April 2002. A note of how the Standard worksand
how accreditation is securedis attached as Annex 2.
8. This collaboration between the Departments
of Health and Education and Employment at national level, and
between healthy school co-ordinators and professionals in the
field at local level has helped develop a sense of shared ownership
of the programme. It also shows how Departmental priorities can
be matched and progressed to develop complementary outcomes of
improved health and education. These outcomes will be measured
in a national evaluation of the Standard next year. The Healthy
Schools Programme offers a model for engaging all school age children
across a range of public health and educational objectives in
a clear and consistent format.
9. The Healthy Schools Programme was established
as part of the emerging public health strategy, set out in "Saving
Lives: Our Healthier Nation" White Paper (1999), and
against the background of the "Excellence for Schools"
White Paper (1997). It explicitly linked the benefits for school
children of good health and educational achievement. The Acheson
report on health inequalities (1998) noted the various ways in
which education influences health inequalities, not least its
role in influencing future socio-economic positiona key
indicator of health status.
10. The potential of schools as a "setting"
for targeting health messages and improving health behaviours
of children and young people has long been recognised. A lot of
work has focused on single topic areas in the past but this has
suffered because of its peripheral relevance to schools' concerns.
The WHO Health Promoting Schools scheme recognised this weakness
and emphasised the need to associate health messages with the
delivery of the curriculum. A recent evaluation found that this
approach could lead to gains in pupils' knowledge, attitudes,
self esteem and health behaviours despite the small number of
schools associated with this scheme.
11. The Healthy Schools Programme has taken
account of these factors and developed a "whole school"
approach, which rests on the involvement of everyonepupils,
staff, parents, governors and partner agencies. The National Healthy
School Standard was built on this approach and developed through
a process of consultation, including an audit of current practice
and school case studies. It also reflected the lessons of eight
pilot projects undertaken in the first year of the Programme (1998-99).
What is a healthy school about?
It is about creating a school environment, which
promotes the health and well being of individuals. It teaches
the life skills they need to assess and resist risks to health,
offers the information to make healthy choices and fosters the
confidence they need to strive for and achieve the best they can.
The examples below offer an insight into their work.
12. The National Healthy School Standard
was launched in October 1999. The challenges it faced included:
establishing a credible scheme which adds value to the work of
schools; developing sustainable local partnerships to support
schools and local communities in raising achievement and improving
health; and, achieving a high level of school participation across
the country. Those working to implement the Standard have been
helped by its systematic development through consultation, the
identification of good practice and evidence, and the use of the
"whole school" approach.
13. The link with the National Curriculum
is a powerful factor in encouraging school participation. The
new statutory status of Citizenship from 2002 and the revised
guidance on Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) read
across to the themes of the Standard (such as drug education,
healthy eating and physical activity). Importantly, the Standard
is cited in QCA guidance as evidence of meeting National Curriculum
Working Across the Curriculum
Chapel Break First School in Norfolk developed
its PSHE into other curriculum areas. The reception class worked
on three health-related modules: "me and my body", "me
and my environment and community" and "me and my relationshipsfamily
and friends", and it has seen a steady improvement in its
Progress of the Programme
National Healthy School Standard
14. The Standard comprises:
Guidance for LEAs and health authorities
to support the development of local healthy school programmes.
Funding through partnerships to help
develop local programmes.
An accreditation process by which
the quality of support provided to schools by local programmes
is independently assessed.
Co-ordination, support, training
and networking between programmes facilitated by a team of national,
regional and local co-ordinators.
15. The Standard operates at two levels:
through local education and health partnerships, and through local
schools. All LEAs and health authorities have joined together
to develop healthy school programmes and work towards meeting
the Standard, with other bodies. This will, in turn, allow them
to recognise achievements in schools. The Chief Education Officer
and Director of Public Health sign joint plans. Funding is provided
by both Departments and drawn down through the DfEE Standards
Fund. £5.7 million has been made available to support these
local partnerships in the current year (2000-01) on a basis which
takes account of the different numbers of schools within each
16. The Standard is also supported through
the Standards Fund support for PSHE. £10 million will be
available next year through this support. This is £3 million
more than was available last year. This funding is fully devolved
to schools and available for use exclusively at the discretion
At St Peter's CE Junior School in Wigan skills
learnt from the textbook in the classroom were supported by the
school's healthy eating programme, reinforced by good examples
from teachers, a healthy tuck shop and healthy choices available
at meal times. Parents became more involved with the school and
children visit Leigh Rugby League Club to underline the value
of healthy eating and exercise.
Wired for Health
17. Linked to the National Grid for Learning,
the Wired for Health (WfH) website provides accurate information
about health issues appropriate to groups targeted by age, disseminates
information about the healthy schools programme and the National
Healthy School Standard, and provides support materials for teachers
for use in the classroom.
18. WfH has an important role to
play in providing examples of good practice at both national and
local level. It ensures that young people and their teachers can
access relevant and appropriate health information at the touch
of the button. There are fiveWfH websites:
Stage 4 (14-16 years-of-age);
3 (11-14 years-of-age site);
2 (7-11 years-of-age); and
1 (4-7 years-of-age)
19. The new web sites for Key Stages 1 and
2 went live on 1 February 2001. WfH is linked to take over 250
other websites. A website for 16+ students is also under consideration
for launch later in 2001.
Young People's Health Network
20. The Acheson report on inequalities highlighted
the difficulties in reaching all children within the school setting.
The Young People's Health Network reaches a school age audience
outside of the school setting. It exchanges information, ideas
and examples of good practice among relevant professionals. It
also involves young people in health and education programmes,
training events, and links with other networks/organisations through
a range of databases, networks and directories. The recent work
on young men's health has generated considerable interest and
activity on the health issues facing young men.
Physical activity was identified as a priority
for Lily Lane primary school in Manchester from a health survey
carried out by the Healthy Schools Team. To improve the health
and fitness of older pupils, it was decided to add two extra physical
activity lessons into the timetable and monitor the benefits.
The children have enjoyed the opportunity to develop their skills,
increase their fitness and have fun with their friends.
21. A range of related programmes and projects
support the Healthy Schools Programme. These projects support
the work of the Programme and encourage the involvement of schools
in this work.
The NHS Plan announced a National
School Fruit Scheme where every child in nursery and aged four
to six in infants schools will be entitled to a free piece of
fruit each school day, as part of a national campaign to improve
the diet of children. Pilots to examine the practicalities of
the scheme before rolling it out nationally were launched in 32
schools in November.
Cooking for Kids promotes healthy
eating and basic cooking skills, including food hygiene. A one-day
course in school holidays, it provides a child the opportunity
to prepare, cook and eat a meal in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.
It is often used as a way of introducing children to their new
secondary school. Over 15,000 children from over 600 schools have
participated in the project.
Safe and Sound is a challenge scheme,
which offers schools the opportunity to develop healthy ways of
travelling to school. Cash prizes are awarded to the most innovative
schemes. It aims to improve physical activity by reducing the
number of children travelling to school by car, through the use
of establishing safe cycle and walking routes.
Breakfast Club projects have been
established in each health region to test their impact on health
and educational improvement. These projects are currently being
evaluated with a final report due in June.
22. The Healthy Schools Programme is an
important vehicle for a range of related policy initiatives aimed
at school age children. All education and health partnerships
have appointed programme co-ordinators, designated people in both
health authorities and education departments who co-ordinate this
23. The co-ordinators are well placed to
act as a conduit between the schools and wider health and educational
worlds. They have helped recruit and support schools into the
Standard and worked to influence Health Improvement Programmes
and Education Development Plans. They work with other health and
education agencies, including Health Action Zones and Education
Action Zones. They link with other local co-ordinators on Teenage
Pregnancy, School Sports and with Local Drug Action Teams. The
aim of this work is to mobilise additional support and resources
for the Healthy Schools Programmes. In return, it offers access
to a vehicle which provides access to young people of school age
and a range of tools like the Standard and Wired for Health
which can contribute to the common goal of improving young people's
health in areas where the most benefit will be felt.
24. The co-ordinators are recognising the
role of health authorities and primary care groups and trusts.
It is difficult for individual schools without the support of
the co-ordinators to understand how health services are provided
and how to draw on these skills and services. Equally for health
agencies an improved understanding of how schools and the National
Curriculum work will help them direct their efforts more effectively
for this age group.
In Sefton the healthy schools programme has
facilitated joint working between key agencies. It has brought
in a school nurse to work with the healthy schools team, and negotiated
a five year service agreement with the Health Education Unit to
support this work. It has also got its work written into the HImP
by the health authority so that the healthy schools programme
now sits within the new primary care strategic planning framework.
23. The Standard also underpins the Government's
strategy to improve sport in schools, where £750 million
will be invested in school sports facilities as part of a £1
billion investment. It sets out an expectation that pupils should
have a minimum of two hours physical activity per week. The HDA's
Schools and Young People's Team is working closely with Sport
England on Active Schools and Sportsmark. There are also links
with DCMS on physical activity and school sports where over 600
co-ordinators have been established in areas of greatest need
24. Public Health and School Standards Ministers
have been closely involved from the beginning of the Programme.
An ad hoc Ministerial Group oversees the programme and the development
of the Standard. Ministers also jointly chaired the PSHE Advisory
Group, and currently chair an Inter-Ministerial Group on Improving
Children's Diet and Physical Activity.
25. As well as DCMS, there are broader links
with other Government Departments include DETR on Safe and Sound
and the wider "Safe Travel to Schools" initiative, MAFF
and the Food Standards Agency on diet and nutrition issues, (including
the National School Fruit Scheme).
26. These links underline some of the multiple
benefits of working together. For example Safe and Sound encourages
physical activity and road safety and can reduce pressures on
the school run. Breakfast clubs improve diet and nutrition, improve
a child's attentiveness in morning classes and can reduce anti-social
behaviour in the school neighbourhood.
The Future Development of Healthy Schools Programme
27. The Healthy Schools Programme has a
key part to play in carrying forward a number of health and education
priorities. These include teenage pregnancy, drugs, healthy eating
and physical activity, It has a role to play in the implementation
of the NHS Plan (2000) which highlights the need to narrow the
health gap in childhood and abolish childhood poverty. It is soundly
built for this purpose by:
its structured framework developed
in consultation with, and supported by education and health professionals;
its whole school approach and links
with the National Curriculum giving it the potential to reach
all schools; and
its role as a vehicle for promoting
partnerships and links with other relevant initiatives.
28. It also provides an example of standards
based health activity which will serve as a model for others.
By evaluating the outcomes and building on its achievements, the
Healthy Schools Programme can help carry forward the work of Sure
Start and other programmes designed to break the cycle of deprivation
and promote health, social and emotional development as well as