The Health Promoting School: Policy, Research, and Practice

The Health Promoting School: Policy, Research, and Practice

The Health Promoting School: Policy, Research, and Practice

The Health Promoting School: Policy, Research, and Practice

Synopsis

Under the UK Labour Government (1997-2001) there have been clear signs of a willingness to revive the 'pastoral' curriculum in schools and to develop stronger links between the health and eductaion sectors. This book, based on empirical work undertaken in England and throughout Europe, explores such government policy and in particular the development of the health promoting school. The authors provide a detailed examination of the health promoting school movement in Europe, including application of concepts, policies, research and practice to the National Healthy Schools Standards in England. A whole school approach to the promotion of health, well-being and educational achievement is taken throughout the book. This approach includes analysis of such subjects and issues as: personal, social and health education; citizenship; environmental education; democracy; self-esteem; social capital and empowerment. The Health Promoting School: Policy, Research and Practice is a timely publication that will serve to inform the practice of teachers in schools and higher education, school management, student teachers and health professionals, health promotion and public health specialists.

Excerpt

The school curriculum is not an inevitable, God-given artefact (except perhaps in some religious institutions!). Rather it involves a selection from culture and represents what a particular society at a particular time in history - and its ruling class - considers worthwhile. The school is thus an agency for socialising each new generation and ensuring that it understands what is worthwhile, acquires appropriate skills and absorbs key social values. Those teachers who, in recent times, have been bombarded by demands for curricular change - often apparently in response to ideological fashion - will not need reminding of this fact of life. The fact that these demands are frequently conflicting reflects another iron law of the curriculum: power and politics, rather than science, academic analysis and the needs of parents and children, are at the heart of this often unreasonable pressure for change.

Health is, of course, one of the major concerns of most cultures and therefore becomes a kind of political football in the power game. This is hardly surprising since health and health care consumes a substantial proportion of the gross national domestic product. Accordingly, although there are disagreements about the meaning of health and the extent to which the family, the community at large and the health services should shoulder the burden of promoting health, few people would deny the important contribution that schools should make to this significant enterprise.

The centrality of the school in fostering health is, therefore, common to all cultures and has been so for many years. There are, though, quite significant differences between the situation obtaining today and what has gone before, and it is hardly surprising that different health concerns have emerged over the last 100 years or so. For instance, early anxieties about infectious disease and an associated concern with hygiene gave way to pressures on schools to persuade pupils to adopt healthy lifestyles that would contribute to the prevention of ‘self inflicted’, chronic degenerative disease. The curricular approach designed to achieve these goals was health education. However, in the last twenty years, health education has been largely superseded by health promotion. This development is not merely a change in nomenclature but involves a kind of value-added dimension in the form of ‘healthy public policy’ (to quote the Ottawa Charter). Health promotion

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