The Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes was launched in 1999 following a four year pilot programme as part of WHO/EC/CoE initiative – European Network of Health Promoting Schools 1992.
The ‘Healthy School’ is one which takes responsibility for maintaining and promoting the health of all who ‘learn, work, play and live’ within it not only by formally teaching pupils about how to lead healthy lives but by enabling pupils and staff to take control over aspects of the school environment which influence their health.
It actively promotes, protects and embeds the physical, mental and social health and well being of its community through positive action.
This can be achieved by policy, strategic planning and staff development about its curriculum, ethos, physical environment and community relations.
There are eight action areas within our framework that schools work on over the course of six phases. The action areas are:
- Physical Activity,
- Personal Development & Relationships,
- Substance Use & Misuse,
- Mental and Emotional Health & Wellbeing,
- Safety, and
Each phase takes from one to three years to complete, with the final sixth phase, culminating in the National Quality Award (NQA). At the end of each phase the schools are assessed by a member of the Healthy Schools team along with a partner agency representative. The NQA is optional for schools that have been on the scheme for at least nine years and have completed phase five. It is an excellence award and can take a few years to complete to national standards.
When a school has completed all of the work for the final NQA phase, assessment for the award is carried out by national assessors that work across all of Wales. For schools that opt out of the NQA, they can complete a Local Phase Six. Once a school has completed all six phases, they will be reassessed every two years to ensure health and wellbeing standards have been maintained.