Health Promoting schools


What is a health promoting school?

SHE defines a ‘health promoting school’ as ‘a school that implements a structured and systematic plan for the health and well-being of all pupils and of teaching and non-teaching staff. This is characterized as a whole school approach (or ‘whole of school approach’). In the different European countries other terms are used such as ‘healthy schools’, ‘good and healthy schools’, but they all have a similar intention. School health promotion is another term that is used to describe health promoting schools.


What is the whole school approach to school health promotion?

The whole-school approach to school health promotion can be divided into the following six components:


  • Healthy school policies  are clearly defined documents or in accepted practice that are designed to promote health and well-being. These policies may regulate which foods can be served at the school or describe how to prevent or address school bullying. The policies are part of the school plan.
  • School physical environment  includes the buildings, grounds and school surroundings. For example, creating a healthy physical environment may include making the school grounds more appealing for recreation and physical activity.
  • School social environment relates to the quality of the relationships among and between school community members, e.g., between students and students and school staff. The social environment is influenced by the relationships with parents and the broader community.
  • Individual health skills and action competencies can be promoted through the curriculum such as through school health education and through activities that develop knowledge and skills which enables students to build competencies and take action related to health, well-being and educational attainment.
  • Community links are links between the school and the students’ families and the school and key groups/individuals in the surrounding community. Consulting and collaborating with community stakeholders will support health promoting school efforts and support the school community in their health promoting actions.
  • Health services  are the local and regional school health services or school-linked services that are responsible for the students’ health care and health promotion by providing direct student services. This includes students with special needs. Health service workers can work with teachers on specific issues, e.g., hygiene and sexual education.

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