A policy will:
- Reassure families, students and school staff that health and wellbeing measures are in place;
- Provide an existent approach to school-based health activities for all members of the school community;
- Establish a framework for deciding what health activities your school will undertake;
- Assist your teachers to meet curriculum requirements and achieve better learning outcomes for their students; and
- Introduce your students to enjoyable activities and programs that will contribute to their lifelong health and wellbeing.
Steps to creating a policy
- Identify a group of interested people. This may be the development of a new team or the enhancement of an existing team/committee. Members may include administrators, teachers, students, canteen representatives, school nurse, parents and health professionals. Allocate a leader or coordinator.
- Identify policy development process and school needs. Consider existing programs, priorities, available resources, compliance with mandated requirements and identify areas of improvement.
- Adapt this health and wellbeing policy template to meet school needs. Gather input from the school and community if possible.
- Build awareness and support. Keep decision makers such as administration and parent committees informed, as well as communicating to students, staff and the community.
- Adopt and implement the policy.
- Maintain, measure and evaluate. Review the policy annual and adapt as necessary.
Cancer Council WA/Mentally Healthy WA’s Health and Wellbeing policy template
This template is designed for schools to use as a base or framework when developing a health and wellbeing policy. It focuses on nutrition, physical activity, sun protection and mental health. Other school health priority areas can be added such as injury prevention, drug education, relationships and sexual health education etc. It may be appropriate to combine other policies with this one such as School Drug Education & Road Aware (SDERA) guidelines.
The highlighted areas in this policy template relate to the SunSmart Schools, Crunch&Sip and Mentally Healthy Schools programs. Including these components satisfies the requirements of the programs and meets the accreditation criteria for membership.
Healthy Food and Drink Policy
The Western Australian Department of Education has implemented the Healthy Food and Drink (HFD) policy in public schools. The policy is based on a ‘traffic light’ system of categorising food and drinks and has been in place since 2007. This is the system that canteens must adhere to when developing their menu.
The policy does not apply to the provision of food in lunchboxes. However, parents can support healthy eating by applying this simple traffic light system when filling lunchboxes. For further information about the policy download the parent and carers flyer or visit the Department of Education’s website.
In 2008, the Catholic Education Office mandated a similar policy based on the Department of Education’s HFD policy.
School health audit tool
Auditing the school community in relation to health practices can be useful to identify areas that are going well and prioritise areas of improvement. An audit can identify measurable and attainable goals that can provide the basis for developing and implementing health initiatives.
WA Health Promoting Schools Association has developed an audit tool that aims to help assess your school environment and how it supports participation in healthy eating, mental health and wellbeing, physical activity and sun safety and to identify areas that could be improved to encourage healthier behaviour. The audit can be adapted to address other health priority areas such as tobacco control, safe environments, sexual health and wellbeing, alcohol and other drug use etc.
The audit is based on the principles of a Health Promoting School.
The information collected from this survey will be useful in a number of ways. It can be used to:
- identify what is currently happening
- identify resources
- identify gaps for future planning
- provide baseline information if it is done before an action plan is developed
- provide information of what you have achieved if you do this after you have put an action plan in place.
There may be sections of this audit that are not relevant to your school.
The audit tool can be used by teachers, administration staff, parent committee representatives, and/or health committee members.
The Victorian Government’s Achievement Program also has useful school health benchmarks in 7 priority areas. Visit their website.