Packed full of good things

23rd November 2007 at 00:00
Douglas Blane finds out what's in the latest health-promoting pack for teachers and pupils.The goal of making every school in Scotland a health-promoting one came a step closer this month with the launch of Your Body Matters; nourishing body and mind for an active life.

The new pack of lesson plans and resources, aimed at Primary 1-7, was devised and written by NHS Greater Glasgow Clyde and Glasgow City Council. It is, the project team believes, "the most comprehensive resource of its kind in the country".

A number of resources on health education and physical activity were available previously to teachers, says Fiona Haggerty, depute head at Eastbank Primary in Glasgow, where the pack was launched. "We are keen on promoting good health at this school, so we've been using some of those resources for years. What this new pack does is provide us with a core resource that we can use throughout the school to deliver the key messages in diet, nutrition and physical activity."

Strategies and policies are all very well, but lesson plans are what's needed in the classroom. These should be practical, progressive, free from commercial bias, and ideally with no instances of the words "key" and "stage" in close proximity. Existing resources satisfied some, but not all, of these requirements, says Louise Gallagher, NHS health promotion officer. "Different organisations had produced materials for different parts of the curriculum. Some were aimed at older children or were written for the English curriculum.

"There were a number of issues and a lot of uncertainty in teachers' minds about whether the lesson plans they were compiling to create a curriculum were accurate, up-to-date and in line with the national recommendations."

The team began its work two years ago by consulting widely to find lessons that were working in the classroom. They then identified the "fairly substantial" gaps and commissioned teachers to devise further lessons to fill these, she says.

"It was a real partnership effort. So, on the health side, we would come up with suggested activities to get across the current recommendations, then the teacher would work out how to make these effective in the classroom at a particular age and stage."

The resource is designed to complement an existing one used for teachers' professional development, says Ms Gallagher. "Growing through Adolescence sounds as if it is aimed only at secondary schools. But the content on nutrition and physical activity is relevant to all teachers. Many local authorities already have people training teachers in this resource. They are planning to use the same trainers to show teachers how the new curriculum pack fits with what they've been learning."

Teachers and school managers have a responsibility for promoting good health, in the classroom and as a whole-school, says Fiona Haggerty. "This pack pulls a lot of things together. It helps us to work across the curriculum. That is the way forward for A Curriculum for Excellence."

- Growing through Adolescence: http:ec.europa.euhealthph_ projects2004action3docs2004_3_7_1_en.pdf

Enquiries from schools or authorities outwith the NHS Greater Glasgow Clyde area: Public Education Resource Library, Dalian House, 350 St Vincent Street, Glasgow. T 0141 201 4915; E: perl@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Satisfying solutions

Your Body Matters; nourishing body and mind for an active life is a pack of 30 lesson plans, teacher notes and additional resources, such as food cards. A roll of posters is provided, and can be displayed around school or to focus discussions. All lesson plans are provided on CD as Word documents, so that teachers can amend and adapt them to suit the needs of particular pupils or classes.

Topics covered include:

- balance of good health

- food groups and a healthy diet

- physical activity

- body image and the media

- food labelling

- where does food come from?

- food hygiene and infection

- oral health

- special diets and religion

- food and the impact on the environment

- impact of food trade on global health.

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