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National Healthy Schools Programme

The National Healthy Schools Programme is jointly funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department of Health (DH). It is part of the government's drive to reduce health inequalities, promote social inclusion and raise educational standards.

The overall aim is to help schools to become healthier and, in doing so, bring about school improvement and greater inclusion. The National Healthy Schools Programme takes a very holistic view of health, so activities in the Programme focus on emotional, social and community health as well as the physical.

A healthy school is one that is successful in helping pupils to do their best and build on their achievements. It is committed to ongoing improvement and development. It promotes physical and emotional health by providing accessible and relevant information and equipping pupils with the skills and attitudes to make informed decisions about their health. A healthy school understands the importance of investing in health to assist in the process of raising levels of pupil achievement and improving standards. It also recognises the need to provide both a physical and social environment that is conducive to learning.

More Information

Every Local Education Authority has formed a partnership with its Primary Care Trust(s) - PCTs and the Partnership manages the Local Healthy Schools Programme. Each of the 150 LEAs in England has such a Programme. To contact your local healthy schools programme coordinator look at

Each local healthy schools programme is slightly different to reflect local needs and traditions, but each of them is working very hard with the schools in their area to help them achieve national healthy school status. This is gained when a school can show that it has achieved minimum criteria in:

  • Healthy eating (and drinking)
  • Comprehensive Personal, Social and Health Education (including drugs education and sex and relationships education)
  • Physical activity
  • Emotional health and well-being (including bullying)

These have to be achieved using the whole school approach as described by the National Healthy Schools Programme. You can find out more about this, and many other facets of the National Healthy Schools Programme, by looking at

National Healthy Schools Programme and Food in Schools

The Public Health White Paper Choosing Health: making healthy choices easier of November 2004 stated that the eight DH action-research projects of Food in Schools were to be integrated into the National Healthy Schools Programme. This means that the good practice described in the research will become part of the criteria that schools will have to achieve in order to satisfy the healthy eating part of national healthy school status.

National Healthy Schools Database

The National Healthy Schools Programme holds a database of all the schools in the country with details about what they are working on, and have achieved, in a variety of health-related issues, including healthy eating. This database is being made available to professionals in many fields during 2005-6.



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