Case study: Wheels and heels
22 September 2008Add to My Folder
Healthy schools are walking and cycling to a healthier future
Children at St Mary’s C of E Primary School put the wheels in action towards a healthy school status
The National Healthy Schools Programme is a fantastic joint Department of Health and Department for Children, Schools and Families initiative that is encouraging children to live a healthy life. Both healthy and unhealthy habits are formed in childhood, so schools can play a vital role in helping to support children to make healthier and more informed life choices.
Using a whole-school approach that involves children, parents, governors and school staff, as well as a comprehensive network of local services, the National Healthy Schools Programme helps schools to share best practice and build solid foundations for good health across a wide range of issues including healthy eating and physical education and emotional health and wellbeing.
Top travel plan
As part of their work towards achieving National Healthy School Status, staff and children at St Mary’s C of E Primary School decided to develop a new travel plan that would encourage them to be more healthy and active, as well as reducing the school’s carbon footprint. Based in an urban area of Bristol, the school caters for around 320 children and has seen the whole-school community working together to develop a successful strategy to encourage walking or cycling to school among staff, children and their families.
‘Both healthy and unhealthy habits are formed in childhood, so schools can play a vital role in helping to support children to make healthier and more informed life choices’
Rachel Hill, a teacher at the school who has been involved in the Walk to School scheme, says: ‘In order to promote these healthier and more environmentally friendly methods of getting to school, an action group arranged for the local council to provide our students with cycling proficiency tests for Year 6 children to enhance child safety, as well as fundraising events which have helped the school to purchase bike sheds, further encouraging the use of bicycles.’
Going for gold
As part of the scheme, the number of times a child walks or cycles to school is recorded. Incentives, such as free swimming sessions at the local pool, are given to children that reach specified milestones. These incentives have proved to be highly popular. Periodically, special breakfasts are also provided by the kitchen staff for children who participate and arrive early at school.
Since the introduction of the new travel plan, the number of children either walking or cycling to school regularly has increased dramatically to around 120 children. The school’s Walk to School scheme has also been presented with the ‘Going for Gold’ award for excellence from Bristol City Council, and congestion around the school at key times of the day has significantly reduced.
A step in the right direction
In order to achieve National Healthy School Status, schools are asked to meet a minimum of 41 criteria that lay the foundations for good health. It’s an ambitious programme, but it’s seeing some remarkable results. Ninety six per cent of schools nationally are now participating and over 60 per cent of schools have already achieved the criteria. This translates to about 3.7 million children and young people currently enjoying the benefits of a Healthy School.
The National Healthy Schools Programme
To find out more about how St Mary’s and other schools throughout the country have been developing and updating their school transport policies as part of their work towards becoming a Healthy School, please visit The National Healthy Schools Programme at: www.healthyschools.gov.uk or contact your Local Healthy Schools Team who’s details can be found on the Healthy Schools website.