Youngsters are more likely to be healthier when they become adults if they adopt good eating and exercise habits early in life – and school is a great place to start.
More than 70 schools in our borough have achieved ‘healthy schools’ status through the Healthy Schools London programme.
And, in 2019, the council’s health improvement team, which provides schools with advice and support, launched the Healthy Schools Ealing points scheme to reward schools for working on health and wellbeing.
This year, the top prize has been won by Selborne Primary School in Greenford, which got the highest ever points total.
The scheme runs until the summer every year and the more points you earn, the higher up the league table your school will climb. The school in first place receives £500 towards their PSHE budget or a year’s membership of the Healthy School Award and Training; the school in second place receives £250 towards their PSHE budget, and £100 for the school in third place.
‘We really value the support’
Kerry Shilling, headteacher at Selborne Primary, said: “We are just so delighted to win this competition instigated by Ealing’s health improvement team. Selborne achieved 55 points, which was the highest points given to any other school in the borough and also the highest score achieved by any school to date. We really value the support that we receive from the health improvement team, which enables Selborne to maintain its Platinum Healthy Schools status.
“We actively strive to share our practice too by regularly contributing to the team’s newsletter and by delivering training with them, so we help other local schools to promote healthy lifestyles. Our prize, one year’s free membership of the Healthy School Award and Training package, will enable us to continue our excellent work promoting healthy living and strong physical and mental health to all pupils, parents and staff in our community.”
Selborne Primary has a well-established sports programme, which was lauded in 2017 for getting so many children active (with participation rising from around a quarter of pupils to 96% of the school).
Indeed, Selborne is one of more than 50 primary schools in the borough that take part in the ‘daily mile’, which gets children out of the classroom for 15 minutes every day to run or jog, at their own pace, with their classmates – encouraging regular exercise and becoming fitter and healthier.
The STARS scheme run by the council’s school travel team, meanwhile, works to increase active travel to school by promoting walking and cycling and supports healthy diets through packed lunch policies and encouraging drinking more water rather than fizzy, sweet drinks.
The council’s health improvement team has also introduced the ‘Sugar Smart’ programme in primary schools, teaching healthy habits early on by encouraging students to drink plenty of water, reduce sugar in snacks and food eaten at school, and raise awareness about sugar with children and families.
Children spend six hours a day, 30 hours a week, 1,170 hours a year in school and may have up to two meals a day in school. Therefore, the school environment presents a substantial opportunity to positively influence food choices and reduce daily sugar consumption through simple changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Becoming more sugar smart can help to improve pupils’ physical and mental health. Excess sugar consumption in children is linked with poorer physical, mental, and dental health, and contributes to the current high levels of childhood obesity – one in three year 6 children in our borough are overweight or obese. In addition, children are eating three times the recommended amount of sugar each day and tooth extraction is the largest cause of admission to hospital in five-nine year-old children.
In addition, the council normally commissions school nurses to deliver the National Child Measurement Programme for reception and year 6 pupils, as well as a child weight management service for families with children aged between five and 13 years of age who are identified as being above a healthy weight and need support to make changes. This was only able to be done with 10% of reception and year 6 pupils last year because of COVID-19 but it is likely to return this year.