How to run projects to promote health in schools

The following ‘how to’ guides will provide some practical tips, advice and resources to promote health in your school from start to finish.

How do I form a school health committee?

A dedicated committee can be developed to oversee health and well-being programs within the school. A group of interested people will provide drive and momentum for your school health project, and will help to share the workload. Sustainability is key to the success of projects, and a committee will be able to keep the project going if the key driver moves on.

The committee can be responsible for guiding the planning, implementation and evaluation of school healthy eating and physical activity projects, as well as developing policies to ensure a consistent school approach to health and well-being activities.

View WA Healthy Schools Project Case Studies 2014 (PDF 1.45MB) for examples of school healthy eating and physical activity projects.

Ideally, a committee will have representatives from across the wider school community, for example; principal, teachers, students, parents, school health nurse, canteen, community dietitian. Having representation from different groups within the school community will provide expertise to guide planning and implementation, and may also provide access to a range of contacts and networks which the school can utilise.

Key actions

  1. Recruit people interested in student health and well-being. Those with a passion for the issues will engage in the process. Ensure you have representation from a number of areas to ensure whole of school community support, input and ownership.
  2. When recruiting members, communicate clearly what it is the committee will be aiming to do, how and why so that everyone knows the expectations from the start. 
  3. Be realistic about people’s time and capacity. It may be necessary to start off with an item on the agenda of an existing committee, rather than with a dedicated committee.
  4. Be flexible about meeting times to fit around other commitments.
  5. Develop a plan so that roles are allocated and everyone has set tasks.
  6. Develop Terms of Reference or Guidelines to ensure that decision-making processes are consistent and that everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
  7. Measure results, and celebrate successes. Acknowledge the work of those involved.
How do I use the Health Promoting Schools Framework?

The Health Promoting Schools Framework (PDF 190KB) describes a whole of school approach to health promotion planning and action in schools. It incorporates three key areas:

  • Education: curriculum, teaching and learning
  • Environment: organisation, ethos and physical environment
  • Partnerships: parents, community and services.

You can adopt approaches under each of these three areas to become a school that promotes health throughout the school community. Healthy children achieve better educational outcomes, which in turn is associated with improved health later in life. The Health Promoting Schools Framework provides a holistic approach to promoting health and educational attainment in schools.

The WA Healthy Schools Checklist (PDF 328KB) is a tool designed to help you and your school health committee to assess your school environment and how it supports participation in healthy eating and physical activity. It can also be used to identify areas that could be improved to encourage healthier behaviour.

It uses the key areas of the Health Promoting Schools Framework (education, environment and partnerships) to rank your school’s current approaches to health, according to a scale of ‘never’, ‘sometimes’, ‘always’, ‘not applicable’. This will enable your school to prioritise measurable and attainable goals that can provide the basis for developing and implementing healthy eating and physical activity initiatives.

The Healthy Schools Checklist also allows you to monitor improvements in your schools’ approach by completing the checklist again after running healthy school projects to see if there has been an improvement in your school across the three key areas.

The WA Health Promoting Schools Association Inc. (external site) provides support for teachers and school staff delivering school health promotion programs. The Association achieves this through education, coordination and collaboration with school communities and health agencies.  For a list of organisations that may be able to assist in developing a health promoting school refer to the WA Health Promoting Schools Association Inc. member agencies (external site).

How do I plan a healthy school project?

Once you have formed a committee and completed the Healthy Schools Checklist (PDF 328KB) you can begin to think about what you want to achieve and how to use the Health Promoting Schools Framework (PDF 190KB) to support a whole school approach towards health improvement. You may want to consult with your school community about what they would like to see improved. This can be done through lessons with students, quizzes or surveys and discussions at Parents and Citizens (P&C) or staff meetings.

Healthy school projects can be developed and implemented in the school setting to overcome issues or to meet a particular goal. For example, a teacher on duty might notice that at lunch time, the majority of senior students order ‘amber’ foods as opposed to selecting the ‘green’ healthier options. A project could be implemented with strategies to encourage students to choose green options over the amber ones. It is important to plan your project so that you know what steps you must take and things you need to address to achieve your goal and outcomes. A plan can also be helpful if you want to communicate your project to other people such as the Principal or P&C.

project plan (PDF 249KB) will help you to consider what areas to address when starting a new project.

How can I access funding to help with my healthy school project?

Funding bodies

  • There are a number of organisations across WA offering various types of grants (PDF 166KB) which are suitable for school projects.
  • When you have found your funding body, use your project plan (PDF 249KB) to help complete the relevant sections. Funding bodies will require an evaluation so you need to plan how you will show that you implemented your plan and how effective it was in achieving your outcomes.
  • Successful grant writing is time consuming. Ensure you have enough time before the closing date to complete the application. If not, consider gathering the information you need and applying for the next round if possible.
  • Internal consultation is valuable. Have you checked out the project with everybody in school who needs to be involved? Have you got full costing and full resource demands outlined? Has it been approved by the Principal, the Parents and Citizens (P&C) President and/or School Board?
  • Have you checked the idea and timeline of your application with the potential funder? A phone call may save you a lot of work, and it may establish a future relationship with the funding body. Some funders will help you tailor your project request to the grant requirements. Research successful grants from previous funding rounds if available, to get an idea on the types of projects that the funder likes.
  • Don’t forget to allow time for proof-reading. If you can use a neutral party for this, they may be able to give some impartial guidance.

School eligibility and contribution

Eligibility: Have you checked your school and project is eligible to apply? Most grants are only available to specific groups, which may include charities, deductable gift recipients or not for profit organisations. Are there any other restrictions around the types of applications that are permitted? ‘Core educational equipment and activities’, including playground equipment, are often excluded.

Own contribution: Does the budget contain a contribution from your school in money, in kind, or in volunteer time, to demonstrate your belief in and commitment to the project? In every application for funding, you should include in your budget the cost of your volunteers. It strengthens your argument but also lets the potential funder know that for every dollar they are putting in, your school is also making a very important and necessary contribution.

For any volunteer contribution you are likely to receive from a skilled expert (Electrician, Landscape Designer, local garden shop owner), provide an estimate of cost for this contribution based on what you would normally have to pay for this service.

Language and Style

Language: Is the language specific, accurate, concise, and clear? Is it professional or personal? Does it contain professional jargon, acronyms, or abbreviations that are not commonly understood? Is the language tentative (“It seems that it is possible that we might…”) or positive (“We will…”)? Go back over the text and remove the words “seems”, “may”, or “might” whenever it appears.

Title: An exciting title for the project is a must. Choose a positive and proactive statement (Improving Nutrition Outcomes through Increased Cooking Opportunities) as opposed to a neutral description of the grant application (Proposal to provide cooking classes at school). Feel free to be creative with the title, it shows you have thought about it and care. Use the internet to research the names of other similar projects. Mix and match ideas to find something that suits.

Grammar: Write the proposal with an active voice in the first person, (“We will collect data on…”)

Simplicity: Is the proposal written in short simple sentences?

Accuracy: Has the proposal been checked and rechecked for typos and misspellings?

Layout

Compliance: Does the proposal follow the funding body’s specifications on margins, spacing, type size, word count, etc.?

Presentation: Is the layout broken up by bullets, italics, headings, subheadings, boldface type, colour, borders, charts or pictures? Endless text in long paragraphs is difficult to read. Even if you are typing into a funding application template, use line breaks to separate key ideas, bullets to outline important lists such as the outcomes you are aiming to achieve, italics or bolded text to highlight important points.

Clarity: Are acronyms spelled out in full at first use (e.g. Deductible Gift Recipient), or at every use if required?

Acquittal

  • If your application is successful and you receive the desired grant, ensure you keep an expenditure record of all outgoings. This will log expenses including receipts and invoices where relevant. 
  • Prepare the necessary acquittal documentation and ensure it is sent to the funding body by the date outlined upon receiving the funds.
How can I get parents involved in my healthy school project?

Engaging parents in school healthy eating and physical activity projects can be a valuable way of increasing the effectiveness of projects. Parents can help share tasks, thereby reducing the workload placed on teachers and other school staff and increasing project sustainability. Having parents involved in projects can help ensure that consistent messages regarding healthy lifestyles are being delivered at home, as well as at school.

Parents may benefit from opportunities to engage in healthy eating and physical activity themselves, through increased knowledge and understanding of the best health choices for their families. Additionally, parents who may not feel comfortable or confident about helping out in a classroom setting may find that the opportunity to engage in interactive wellbeing activities more suitable to them.

Key actions

  1. Make the school welcoming for parents and carers, particularly those who may not have had a positive school experience.
  2. Provide options for different activities that parents can get involved in, for example; assisting with gardening/cooking sessions, helping out at sports carnivals, donating equipment, canteen duties. Parents can then pick those that play to their strengths, suit their interests and can fit in with their other commitments. Send out a specific list of tasks at the beginning of term that parents can put their names against.
  3. Provide small incentives for getting involved, such as a morning tea, excess seedlings or garden produce. Acknowledging the support will highlight the value and importance of their engagement.
  4. Become an Act-Belong-Commit school to promote the mental health benefits of volunteering. Doing something good for other people boosts our self-esteem and our sense of purpose, which contributes positively to our mental wellbeing. Keeping parents engaged in your school’s health activities can be difficult, but knowing that there are not only benefits to their children, if they are involved, but also to themselves and their family unit, really helps.
  5. Be specific about the help required. Give parents a specific task and time frame, so that they know exactly what they will be doing and how much of a time commitment it is. This will help them to schedule their support sessions in around their other family commitments.
  6. Provide information and training for parents who may not be confident about their skills. The School Volunteer Program provides skill development in mentoring within an education environment, and conducts all the necessary background checks.

Further information

How do I develop a health and wellbeing policy?

The policy template (PDF 260KB) was developed based on the health promoting schools framework to support healthy eating and physical activity programs in schools. It can be adapted to support a broader health focus. You could add your school letterhead and program logos to the template.

Why have a school policy related to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity?

  • To provide better learning outcomes, health and well-being for students
  • To promote good practice and leadership in healthy eating and physical activity
  • To establish a foundation and clear understanding within the school organisation
  • To provide support to staff, parents and students
  • To provide a framework for decision making and risk minimisation.

Guidelines for developing your School Health and Wellbeing Policy

Identify a leader and either:

  • form a team of interested people (Principal, Deputy, teachers, students, parents and health professionals)
  • identify an existing relevant committee or group to participate in developing your school’s health and wellbeing policy.

Other considerations:

  • What is already working, and what can be improved?
  • What are your school community needs and how well does the attached template meet those needs?
  • Should anything be added to, or removed from, the Policy?

As a team:

  • customise the policy example to suit your school’s needs and circulate it to staff and parents for their feedback
  • consider feedback, review and finalise the policy
  • ask the Principal and school board to endorse the policy and communicate it to the whole school community through assemblies, brochures, the school newsletter or any other appropriate channel.

Give life to your policy

  • Prioritise the activities specified in your policy.
  • Develop and implement an action plan using the policy statements.

Evaluate

Review and evaluate (PDF 115KB) the policy (PDF 260KB) after the agreed time frame, ideally annually.

How do I evaluate my healthy school project?

Projects can be developed and implemented in the school setting to overcome issues or to meet a particular goal. It is important to evaluate rojects for accountability and to identify whether you achieved your goal or not.

This document will outline some components to consider when evaluating a project.

Step 1

Look back at your project plan. What was your original goal? You want the evaluation to identify whether the goal and objectives were achieved.

Step 2: Collecting information

Collect information or data that will demonstrate what has been achieved by your project. Data can be collected by the responsible person in your project plan (PDF 249KB) and can include surveys, quizzes or observing changes in student behaviour. Your data may include:

  • Number of students and/or staff who participated
  • Observed changes in eating habits amongst students
  • Changes in students’ knowledge relating to nutrition
  • Increase in sales of green items at the canteen
  • Photo diary of progress (particularly good for school gardens).

Step 3: Budget

Ensure your financial records are easy to find. You could ask your registrar to create a line item in the school accounts to track all income and expenses for your project. Look back at your invoices and work out how much money you spent. If you received a grant for your project, you will need this information at hand for your acquittal.

Step 4: Successes and challenges

Consider some factors that influenced your project such as things that helped, some challenges you faced, and what you would do differently next time.

For example: Teachers were supportive of healthy eating lessons in the classroom but lessons conflicted with athletics carnival training. Next time, the project will be ran in term three to avoid this timetabling clash.

Step 5: Write an evaluation report or summary

Writing a evaluation report or summary of your project will allow a detailed record of what was carried out and how, to be kept for future reference. This is helpful as often the people involved in the project may move to new jobs and this knowledge would be lost.

You can use an evaluation report (PDF 115KB) to guide you.

Step 6: Share your information

You could present your evaluation through use of your report, or a PowerPoint presentation, at a staff meeting, P&C meetings or even in the school newsletter to inform parents.

Produced by

Child and Adolescent Health Service