Health drive for schools costs pound;2m

5th March 1999 at 00:00
AN APPLE for teacher may not only keep the doctor away but also be the latest weapon in the Government's drive to raise standards in schools.

It is a well-known fact, claim the Departments of Education and Employment and Health, that regular workouts help relieve depression, stress and anxiety as well as enhancing physical health.

And they say: "Addressing the health needs of teachers will help them support the development of their pupils. A healthy school will foster better outcomes in both the mental and physical health of its pupils and in their academic achievement."

But you can rule out an all-expenses paid trip to a health farm. What ministers Charles Clarke and Tessa Jowell are talking about is clear guidelines on healthy eating, stress-busting courses and basic measures to protect the health and safety of staff and pupils. And, of course, physical activity for all staff - particularly in the middle of the day.

The pound;2 million campaign comes as the first survey of sickness rates among teachers in England and Wales shows that staff are absent 7.1 days a year on average - less than other public-sector workers, including the police.

Staff in Wales topped the absence league and those in special schools take off more time than in primaries and secondaries.

The DFEE and DOH are running a series of consultative conferences on the healthy schools initiative. Views can also be e-mailed to conference consultants Nick Peacey at n.peacey@ioe.ac.uk, or James Park at antidote@goe2.poptel.org.uk

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