Working for a healthier school education

Healthy Schools London is an Awards Programme that will reach out to every London child, working with schools to improve children and young people’s well‑being. Here, Alison Stafford gives an insight to the work being done.

Healthy Schools London is an awards scheme funded by the Mayor of London that supports and recognises school achievements in pupil health and wellbeing. Healthy Schools London focuses on the whole child and gives schools a framework for their activity with pupils, staff and the wider community. 

Healthy Schools London promotes a whole school approach across five themes: healthy eating; physical activity; emotional health and well-being; personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE); and environment.

The programme builds on the success of the National Healthy Schools Programme (NHSP). 97 per cent of all London schools were involved in NHSP but since its demise in 2011, many local Boroughs ended their investment despite its popularity. Healthy Schools London has stimulated re-investment. There are three levels of Awards: Bronze, Silver and Gold.

Why do we need a Healthy Schools London Programme?
The links between pupil health and well‑being and attainment are increasingly recognised and backed up by robust evidence. A recent paper published by Public Health England, ‘The link between pupil health and well‑being and attainment: A briefing for head teachers, governors and staff in education settings’ (November 2014) presented the following evidence: pupils with better health and well‑being are likely to achieve better academically; effective social and emotional competencies are associated with greater health and well‑being, and better achievement; the culture, ethos and environment of a school influences the health and well-being of pupils and their readiness to learn; and a positive association exists between academic attainment and physical activity levels of pupils.

Childhood obesity is a critical issue especially for London children. More than a third of London’s 11 year olds are overweight and more than one in five are obese. Prevention begins in childhood where it is proven that schools have a fundamental influence.

Healthy Schools London rewards schools that are creating environments conducive to the health and well‑being of pupils, with a particular focus on encouraging a healthy weight.

Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), citizenship education and pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development have been given greater profile in the Ofsted Framework that was launched in September 2015.

By strengthening these areas, schools are more likely to obtain good overall outcomes under the Common Inspection Framework from September 2015. Healthy Schools London supports key areas of the new framework primarily through the HSL Bronze Award in relation to: PSHE; personal development, behaviour and welfare; safeguarding; SMSC; primary PE/sport premium; impact on pupil outcomes; and School Food Standards.

Examples of work that is being undertaken across London schools includes: welcoming dining room environment; increased uptake in healthy school meals; improved cooking skills; road safety and bike sheds; increased walking and cycling to school; more school sport clubs and physical activities; and increased participation in physical activity.

We are also beginning to see a growth in re‑designed playgrounds; more active playtimes; playtime buddies; anti-bullying and pupil voice; and mindfulness and positive relationships.

The Mayor’s investment has already levered in support from London Boroughs for HSL. 25 London Boroughs now have a local Healthy Schools Programme or equivalent local support for schools. The Healthy Schools London programme is delivered via a Network of Borough Leads who work directly with schools. We now have 1,673 (72 per cent) London schools registered. Of these, 804 schools have already achieved a Bronze Award, 205 have achieved a Silver Award and 18 a Gold Award.

Head teacher focus/Case study:
Karen Jaeggi has been head teacher at Worcesters Primary School, in the London Borough of Enfield, since February 2011. When she arrived, the school had been given ‘Notice to improve’ by Ofsted. Within two years, by the end of 2013, the school was deemed ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Karen approached her tenure as head at Worcesters by adopting the Healthy Schools model and using it as an improvement tool across the whole school. This model has helped with pupil behaviour, attendance and achievement throughout the school. Some of the activities that she implemented include a swing high club where pupils in early years have structured timetabled activities using the climbing frame to improve their gross motor skills. The handwriting of pupils in Early Years have improved as a result.

Karen also initiated playground zones for different activities whereby pupils are led by their peers and by lunchtime supervisors in a range of playground activities at break and lunchtime including: ball games, pogo sticks, climbing frames, bikes/trikes and skipping. Pupils are now more active at break and lunch times and less playground incidents are now recorded.

There is now a healthy breakfast club with activities for pupils. Attendance has increased since the introduction of the breakfast club. In addition, the school now has a team points system across the school to reward good behaviour, effort and achievement. Karen has overseen the re-design of the school dining room with more light and bright colours and 3D models of fruit and vegetables, menu options added in consultation with pupils, servery lowered so all pupils can now see food on offer and all pupils must have a meal that includes vegetables.

These activities have resulted in an increase in school meal uptake to 77 per cent of all pupils (280 pupils). This has been matched by improved packed lunches, with the school implementing a packed lunch policy via parental consultation, assemblies and displays so that 76 per cent now meet the Food Based Standards. Consequently, an increase in the consumption of healthy snacks eaten at break time has grown through the selling of fruit pots. The school implemented ‘Worcester’s Way’ where pupils have a ‘Plan A’ and a ‘Plan B’ for their future lives based on their aspirations, interests and abilities, which helps to promote the policy of ‘Be the Best you can Be’.

The impact of these Healthy Schools activities means that: pupils are more engaged in P.E; literacy has improved; pupils have better relationships with one another and are more physically active at break and lunch times; attendance is in line with national averages; there are very low incidences of bad behaviour recorded after lunch time; all pupils that attended swing high club showed improved handwriting as a result of this intervention; 55 fruit pots are sold each day to pupils in KS2; and 40 pupils attend breakfast club.

Karen is confident in crediting the whole school approach to health and wellbeing as promoted by the Healthy Schools model for the success of the school and its staff and pupils. Karen continues her work as dead of Worcesters Primary School but also supports other schools in Enfield as part of her role as a National Leader of Education (NLE). Karen is a member of the Healthy Schools London Strategic Advisory group.

A film of Worcesters Primary School is available to view at:

Further Information