The Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes (WNHSS) was launched in 1999 to encourage the development of local healthy school schemes within a national framework. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises the WNHSS as playing a key role in promoting the health of children and young people, and the scheme has been rolled out across Wales since 2000.
Each local scheme is responsible for supporting the development of health promoting schools within their area. The WNHSS describes a health promoting school as one which ‘actively promotes, protects and embeds the physical, mental and social health and well being of its community through positive action’. This can be achieved through policy, strategic planning, staff development, curriculum, ethos, physical environment and community relations.
Within the scheme, there are seven different health topics that schools need to address. These include:
The Vale Healthy Schools Scheme was launched in 2000 and is one of 22 local schemes accredited as part of the WNHSS. The Scheme is funded by Welsh Government, managed by Public Health Wales, and actively supported by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and the local Education Authority. The Scheme works in partnership with local and national organisations to ensure a coordinated and multi-faceted approach to health within schools.
The Vale Healthy Schools Scheme works to ensure that health promotion becomes an integrated part of the school curriculum, the organisation and the ethos of the school and that the wider community is involved in its planning, implementation, evaluation and celebration. All maintained nursery, primary, secondary, special schools and pupil referral units in the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as Headlands Action for Children School and Westbourne School participate in the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy Schools Scheme.
Schools progress through the scheme by achieving ‘Phases’. In Phases 1-3 a school is required to plan and implement three specific health actions over the course of one academic year. In Phases 4-5 a school is required to work towards achieving a whole school approach to one of the Healthy Schools topic areas over the course of two academic years. Phases 1-5 are assessed locally by the Local Healthy Schools Coordinator.
After completing Phase 5, a school may choose to work towards achieving the National Quality Award (NQA). The NQA is awarded to schools that can demonstrate a whole school approach to all areas of health listed within the Healthy Schools Scheme. This requires a school to collate evidence for each of the indicators listed in the NQA documentation.
The NQA is a prestigious award for any school to achieve, and is assessed by national assessors. To date six schools in the Vale have achieved this award; Barry Island Primary, Cadoxton Primary, Gladstone Primary, Llangan Primary, Jenner Park Primary and Llantwit Major Comprehensive school. Many more schools in the area are currently working towards achieving the award.
For more information about the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy Schools Scheme please download the handbook:
or contact Christine Farr, Senior Health Promotion Specialist, Healthy Schools: 02921 832110.