It's well on the way

14th January 2005 at 00:00
Raymond Ross asks headteachershow far they have come on the road to health promotion


Moira Leslie Raigmore Primary, Highland

"We were the first primary in Highland to have a health accreditation visit last year. We got a level 4 (the highest) certificate for being a health promoting school.

"We've done a lot on mental health and well-being for staff and pupils. For staff, it's part of in-service training. Pupils do brain gym, hand gym, movement programmes, relaxation and have access to lots of water.

"P4 pupils have produced their own DVD on physical and mental well-being that will be shown to all our pupils. Our pupils formed Raigmore Healthwise as an enterprise project. It runs a healthy tuck shop and we have a breakfast club with about 30 pupils, most attracted by the social aspect.

"Investing in staff health has cut our absence rate. We try not to be put off by the big health agenda. It's the small achievements that get you there step by step."

Scott Meal Davidson's Mains Primary, Edinburgh

"We try to build in creativity and flexibility to the curriculum and involve pupils in their own learning plans, and promote self-esteem.

"There's a strong focus on hydration, healthy eating, circle time, jogging to stimulate the brain and the use of music for stimulation and relaxation. As an eco-school we have gone for bronze and hope to go for silver soon, and we're developing the school grounds.

"A travel survey has led to safer routes, new cycle lanes, walking buses and a "park and stride" (park away from school to promote walking and cut congestion at the gates). Cycle proficiency and kerbcraft (P2) are part of this.

"We're part of Edinburgh's Active Schools Partnership and the city's Sporting Chance, which focuses on P5 to give them tasters of different sports."

Helen Ross Melrose Primary, Scottish Borders

"We are a sporting school with strong community links with rugby (P1 to P7), a big extra-curricular football programme (P1 to P7) and netball, athletics and gymnastics.

"Parental support is paramount as our catchment area consists of several villages, so transport is vital.

"Health education is a big part of the curriculum, but putting it into practice is what matters. The pupil council is very important. Ours is starting a healthy tuck shop. We have healthy choices alongside traditional meals, but we could have healthier menus.

"We've encouraged pupils to bring in their own water, and the local authority is about to install a water cooler.

"Mental health is built into the curriculum with emphases on creativity, flexibility and thinking skills."

David Wharton West Barns Primary, East Lothian

"We have just achieved stage one of (three) Lothian Health Board school awards.

"Our strategy involves pupils, parents, community and outside agencies, such as our community policeman and health co-ordinator to look at children's health. We set up programmes on general health, mental health, sex and drug education and PSD.

"Our seniors run a healthy tuck shop and theme it sometimes - Fruity Friday or Tropical Tuesday, for instance - and we have good healthy options from our catering services.

"Not all pupils arrive in school with healthy snacks. That's something we have to work on.

"We began offering water two years ago and each child had their own named bottle.

"The PTA helped to raise funds for new playground games and an outside sitting area with tables and board games where children can get fresh air while exercising their brains with chess, draughts and so on.

"We also have a health noticeboard in the staffroom that advertises courses and classes for our teachers."


Ken Cunningham Hillhead High, Glasgow

"We're quite far ahead on health promotion. Working closely with the catering folks, we offer lots of healthy choices that are good value and are promoted through competitions and freebies for cinema and concert tickets.

"We offer 24 sports in PE and 80 minority time activities on Friday afternoons that cover everything from dance, drama and canoeing to 10-pin bowling and language classes.

"Focus on healthy lifestyle and eating begins in home economics in S1, and PSE courses promote healthy options.

"We've brought in drama groups and visual artists for seniors to focus on issues such as violence against women. As a new learning community we link social and health services, so we have health board counsellors in school to whom pupils can talk.

"We put a huge emphasis on multi-cultural and multi-faith education, celebrating Christian, Moslem, Buddhist and Hindu traditions, for example, and we have a huge charity enterprise culture. We raised pound;5,000 in one morning for Children in Need.

"All these things contribute to making pupils confident and reflective."

Ralph Barker Alloa Academy, Clackmannanshire

"Our home economics PT is on the SNAG (school nutrition action group) cluster group, and PE and home economics work closely to address health promotion.

"For example, they have put together a non-certificate health and fitness course for seniors that is very popular. But why can't the SQA devise certificate courses like this, so that pupils are given that extra motivation while being recognised for raising their attainment?

"We have a way to go on school meals and are in discussion with catering services. There are cost delivery issues. Healthy meals have to be cheap enough to attract pupils and be available to every pupil.

"Putting out 30 salads a day is not the answer. The last pupil in the queue at the end of lunchtime should still have that healthy option, and healthy meals have to be quickly accessible because pupils want their lunch quickly so that they've got free time after.

"You also need to cost out the competition, the local shops and vans that offer cheap, and not necessarily healthy, food.

"You need a balance on the menu, with an emphasis on choosing healthy options. You need to alter the views of children when they are at a very early age - and that means altering parents' views too."

Frank Lennon St Modan's High, Stirling

"We're part of a SNAG group and we've received the Scottish Health at Work (SHAW) bronze, silver and gold awards for staff health promotion. We have always promoted pupil and staff health together.

"We meet most of the health-promoting criteria but local contracts still in force prevent us having any control over menus in the dining room, while two fizzy drinks and chocolate vending machines remain on school premises on fixed contracts.

"Stirling Council has put one healthy vending machine in, but there's a disconnection between health promotion and what's on offer at lunches.

"Healthy options sell, partly because the new dining area - built to a design agreed by the pupil council - includes a prominent salad bar and healthy sandwiches cabinet. But competition with junk food remains a problem.

"This is a shame because S1 to S3s are not allowed out of school during lunchtime, so we have a captive market and a chance to promote healthy options. But when it comes to the less healthy options, the three local chip shops near the school offer cheaper, larger portions of better-quality food than our catering does.

"Our home economics department is very strong on health and nutrition, and over and above curricular PE we offer lots of activities that attract high participation.

"This is a whole-school thing, and that's important. You can't put it all on PE staff.

"We have three teachers who are trained bereavement counsellors who have helped some pupils and our senior pupils get inserts in their PSE programme on issues such as depression, exam stress and preparation, self-harm and suicide, with individual follow-ups where necessary. The offer of bereavement counselling to 170 S2s last year saw a 10 per cent uptake. This can include issues such as the imprisonment of a parent. It works because the pupils know these teachers."

Graham Herbert Lockerbie Academy, Dumfries and Galloway

"We're pretty much on target to becoming a health-promoting school. We've had a breakfast club for five years. We have a SNAG, and our catering staff do their best to promote healthy eating.

"Our pupils can order healthy-option lunches at morning interval. If they want a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich at lunchtime, it'll be ready for them.

"The burger and chips options remain and we do have an ice-cream van at the school gate, but other fast-food outlets are too far for most to bother walking.

"Some 500 of our pupils go through the canteen every day, and when we start cashless catering in February, coupled with a more cafe-like design, we hope school food will become more popular.

"This school is jumping at night with extra-curricular activities. That's particularly pleasing as we have a large rural catchment area with transport difficulties.

"Water is allowed in class and we do brain gym and a number of similar activities, but the major cultural exercise we still have to do in society is to challenge the deep-fried Mars Bar syndrome.

"It's vital to have pupil voices heard in health promotion. They see things we don't. For example, our pupils campaigned for water fountains in the dining area. Now they've got them. You see a lot of young people drinking water now."

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