Health Promoting Schools Initiative
School can make a substantial contribution to a student’s health and well-being. This is being increasingly recognised by many international bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO). The Health Promoting School (HPS) initiative is run by the Health Service Executive and encourages all members of the school community to look at how health and wellbeing can be built upon within the school setting.
Aims of the Health Promoting School
The HPS aims to:
• Foster the healthy development of the whole school community
• Provide a framework for developing health promotion initiatives in a way that supports and enhances the implementation of the curriculum
• Support the planning, implementation and evaluation of health-related activities under school self-evaluation, school development planning processes
• Enhance the links between schools and their communities.
In a Health Promoting School:
• Everyone in the school setting is valued
• Self-esteem is fostered
• Fairness and tolerance are evident
• People experiencing difficulties are supported
• Communication is open and transparent
• Effort is recognised
• Uniqueness and difference are respected
• Conflict is handled constructively
• Initiative and creativity are encouraged
• Social, moral and civic values are promoted
• Students’ emotional, psychological and physical well-being is promoted.
There is a strong evidence base for engaging in the HPS process:
• Better learning outcomes for students
• Improved staff well-being
• A more co-ordinated approach to social, physical and environmental needs
• Increased student self-esteem
• Lowered incidence of bullying
• School environment is safer and more secure
• Better understanding of a school’s health aims
• Improved relationships within the school
• More involvement of parents
• Better use of external agencies.
Stages of the Health Promoting School process
Stage 1: Expression of interest.
Schools express an interest in becoming involved in the HPS process by contacting their local Health Service Executive (HSE) Health Promotion Office.
Stage 2: Meeting with principal and key staff.
A local Health Promotion Officer will arrange a meeting with the principal and other key staff. The purpose of this meeting is to outline what is involved in developing as a Health Promoting School.
Stage 3: Whole-staff presentation.
A whole-staff presentation is given by a local Health Promotion Officer to introduce and explain the HPS initiative to the rest of the staff.
Stage 4: School agreement and appointment of co-ordinator.
The school decides to proceed with the HPS process and nominates a HPS co-ordinator from within the school community.
Stage 5: Health Promoting School team established.
The HPS co-ordinator will establish a HPS team from within the school community to support, plan and develop the initiative.
Stage 6: Raising awareness and consultation.
Participation of the whole-school community in the HPS process is encouraged and awareness raising activities are organised. The school undertakes a consultation process to get the views of the whole-school community and to record what is working well and what needs attention in relation to health.
Stage 7: Setting priorities and developing an action plan.
The HPS team will identify themes for action from the results of the consultation process. Evidence of best practice in relation to identified themes will be researched and these themes will then form the basis of a HPS action plan.
Stage 8: Implementing action plan.
The action plan is implemented over an agreed timeframe and is assessed and monitored on an ongoing basis by the in-school HPS team.
Stage 9: Application for HPS recognition.
At the end of an agreed timeframe, the HPS team completes an application form for recognition as a Health Promoting School.
Stage 10: Recognition and celebration.
The HSE formally recognises the school as a HPS and the school celebrates its achievements.
Stage 11: Reviewing and planning for next phase.
The HPS team carries out a review of the process and the cycle of work continues. There is no single end point to the Health Promoting School process but rather a cycle of review-plan-do-review that enables participating schools to reflect, sustain and build on earlier work.
The HPS team was established in OLS in 2015. It consists of staff, parent & student representatives. Based on consultation with the entire school community, the overall theme that emerged was Mental Health. Within this area, the three specific targets identified were: Switching off from technology, Well-being & Non-competitive exercise. Over the last two years the team has worked hard to implement our action plan and we are now at Stage 9: Application for Recognition. We hope to become formally recognised as a Health Promoting School in the coming months.