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Healthy home starts at school

A touch of motherhood and apple pie appears to be the recipe for health-promoting schools - according to one appreciative primary pupil.

At the launch of the national framework for health-promoting schools at Kincaidston Community School in Ayr on Tuesday, Sophie Kerr, aged 11, translated the jargon concisely: "It is not just pupils who learn here."

She added: "The parents learn as well. They come to our 'adults helping homework' classes, and to parenting skills classes as sometimes we can be difficult little people. They have also taken part in computer classes and line dancing."

Being Well, Doing Well is the latest stage in meeting ministers' target of having a nation of health promoting schools by 2007. It was produced by the Scottish Health Promoting Schools Unit (SHPSU).

While most teachers may feel in the dark about this initiative, it has already begun to bear fruit in decisions such as those by Coca-Cola to remove its branding from drinks machines in schools and by Highland Council to phase out fizzy drinks within three years.

At the launch in Kincaidston, which educates nursery and primary pupils, Harvey Stalker, director of the Health Promoting Schools Unit, said the document builds on work already established in many local authorities.

"Schools have a vital role to play in educating and supporting future generations of Scots to escape from a potential life sentence of obesity and ill-health," the former HM chief inspector said. "But perhaps fewer of us realise the significance of health and well-being as part and parcel of the everyday management and planning in successful and effective schools."

Mr Stalker was supported by Gregor Henderson, director of the national programme for emotional and mental health well-being, who said: "How you feel affects how you are and how you act with others."

Kincaidston was made an integrated new community school in 1999. Carol Shearing, its headteacher, welcomed the document as an excellent framework for developing the needs of the whole child. "It provides valuable guidance for schools to support pupils and all in the community to become fitter, healthier and happier members of society," she said.

Peter Peacock, Education Minister, repeated the Scottish Executive's commitment to give children the best possible start in life.

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