Becoming a Teacher: Issues in Secondary Teaching

By Justin Dillon; Meg Maguire | Go to book overview

23 The importance of teachers
and schools in health
promotion

Peter Duncan


Sex and school dinners: what exactly is health promotion?

In February 2005, the celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, appeared in the Channel Four television series, 'Jamie's School Dinners'. Featuring Kidbrooke School in the London Borough of Greenwich, Oliver's programme focused on the poor quality of food being served up in UK schools and the general lack of training and understanding in the area of nutrition. The series led to a petition of nearly 300,000 signatures being taken to 10 Downing Street and the then Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, agreeing to a £220m increase in funding for school catering services. It was also central to the establishment of the 'watchdog' School Food Trust and provoked wholesale changes to menus and food choices in schools across the country (Plunkett 2005; Lawrence 2006).

Towards the end of the same year, a report from the Government's independent advisers on sexual health and teenage pregnancy recommended that detailed knowledge about sex should be included routinely in the education of all pupils. The report came in the wake of Britain continuing to maintain a Western European lead for teenage pregnancy rates, and rising levels of many sexually transmitted diseases among young people (Campbell 2005).

These separate stories of school dinners and sex represent a number of important things. First, they tell of the wide levels of interest in schools as places where 'good health', whatever that means, can be encouraged. Second, they signify that our interest in promoting the health of young people is often accompanied by high degrees of emotional fervour and debate. Third, they represent the complexity inherent in efforts at health promotion. We want young people to choose a healthy diet and be careful in their sexual behaviour, but how do we balance this with a desire that they should make the choices they want, and in the context of a wider

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