Healthy citizens

23rd April 2004 at 01:00
With the help of Halifax's healthy school co-ordinator we have set up a number of initiatives as part of the healthy school award. At Woodbank we have children of all abilities, including those with profound and multiple learning difficulties, and the whole school is involved: staff and children. We set up a school council with each class electing its own representative (any child can take part) and the council meets about once every half term. Two teachers act as facilitators. The pupil chair reports back to the head with decisions.

Pupils communicate in their own ways. To vote, they point to a picture, raise a hand or "point" with their eyes. Issues that have been discussed include meals - the council instigated a survey of what children liked, to help the cook; healthy snacks; equipment and games; and the school's environment (they wanted more flowers, for example). Recently, they requested their own budget. We wanted to let children know in advance what they could choose for dinner in order to increase their knowledge of different kinds of food, help them make more informed choices and encourage independence.

Every day we display the menu near the canteen, with symbols, pictures, plates with replica food and the words so that all the children can decide.

We drew symbols for main course and pudding and these are on show as each course is served.

We also devised a song, choosing fruit and vegetables that began with the letters WOODBANK. It began: "Watermelon, oranges and onions and dates.

These are fruit and vegetables we no longer hate." This was incorporated into a pantomime called Captain Cook.

Deputy headteacher, Woodbank Special Primary School, Halifax.

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