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Joined Up Thinking in Theory and Practice: The case of healthy schools

By M. Morrison, Jennifer K. Harrison, N. Kitson and A. Wortley


This article provides a critical analysis of recent policy initiatives associated with ‘Healthy Schools’. Its specific focus is upon evaluation research conducted by the authors at the School of Education, University of Leicester. The evaluation team investigated healthy school programmes in two Midlands authorities as they related to anticipated accreditation for the National Healthy School Standard (NHSS). Analysis is of findings that sought to identify the most effective approaches for supporting schools and colleges to achieve healthy school status. A specific focus is upon schools' capacity, and those of the health and educational professionals with whom they work, to meet the myriad expectations that are part of the standard. The ‘Healthy School’ is seen as a critical case where connections between health and education are expected to mirror government department interests in ‘joined-up’ thinking, evaluation strategies and concerns about accountability and performance among schools and local authorities. This is illustrated in the language of the NHSS, where healthy schools are assumed to provide settings for promoting children's and young people's health through the curriculum, the school environment, and in partnership with parents, governors and local stakeholder communities drawn from education, health, social and community services. Curricular themes of citizenship and personal social and health education are being pulled together to provide a revised non-statutory curriculum for Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and, by September 2002, a new curriculum framework for citizenship. What are the prospects for such an ambitious linking of rhetoric and practice? The article identifies key aspects of the healthy schools challenge, namely the need to ascertain ways in which its development can be simultaneously extended yet sufficiently inclusive to meet the multiple interests of a healthy and educated citizenry, and of schools in which that challenge is supposed to be met. Yet the article also sounds warnings of a standard that, with limited resources and prioritization, might drown under the weight of its own inclusiveness. The concluding counterpoint is an illustrative case-study of effective practice that pre-dates yet anticipates proposed curriculum changes

Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1080/0958517022000014691
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