Three Vale of Glamorgan schools have recently been recognised for good practice in promoting the health and well-being of children, staff and families.
Through the Welsh Network of Healthy Schools Scheme, schools are encouraged to deliver positive actions that will have a lasting effect on the whole school community. Despite the additional pressure the last few months have place on educational settings, St Illtyd Primary School in Llantwit Major, and Gladstone and Oakfield Primaries, both in Barry, have demonstrated innovative ways of supporting not only pupils and staff, but families and the wider community too.
Oakfield Primary is well on the way to achieving the National Quality Award of the Welsh Network of Healthy Schools Scheme – the highest level possible. A recent assessment explored some of the initiatives to promote healthy eating and found that all classrooms have a kitchen area where pupils can learn to prepare and cook food.
The youngest pupils make their own snack every day and their lunch once a month. Pupils grow vegetables, some of which are then used for cooking. The school has recently set up The Big Bocs Bywd, a scheme which provides local families with healthy food options.
St Illtyd Primary School in Llantwit Major achieved the National Quality Award 2 years ago, and has developed many new health related initiatives since then.
An allotment is thriving in the school grounds, and a poly tunnel enables the growing of produce. Emphasis has always been placed on good hand washing, but this has now become a major priority. Outdoor sinks have been introduced which the children operate with their knees, reducing the risk of infection being transferred from one childs hands to another. Restrictions have made changes necessary but positives have come from this and the school hopes to keep initiatives such as the one way system. St Illtyd Primary is involved in the Super Ambassador scheme and pupils were excited to have participated in an online session with Sally Holland, Childrens Commissioner for Wales.
Back in Barry, Gladstone Primary School has recently been re-assessed for the National Quality Award, first achieved 8 years ago. The school excels in offering support around mental and emotional health and well-being, and recently became the first primary school in Wales to achieve Trauma Informed Status. Starting from the standpoint that if a child is upset, angry or frustrated they will not be in a good position to learn, a wide range initiatives are used to help children ‘regulate’ their feelings and be in a better place to benefit from everything the school offers.
Helen Reilly, Deputy Head teacher at Gladstone Primary School feels that participating in the Healthy Schools Scheme ensures that promoting good physical, mental and emotional health remains high profile:
“We are so pleased to have achieved Healthy Schools National Quality Award status for the 4th time. Everyone at Gladstone Primary School is committed to promoting health, of children, staff and families, and the wonderful community here in Barry helps us do this. Participating in the healthy schools scheme helps us ensure we are developing work across the wide range of health areas that effect children, and challenges us to think creatively about how we do this”
Catherine Perry, Senior Health Promotion Specialist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: “It is wonderful to see the lengths that schools are going to, to keep children safe and healthy. The energy and enthusiasm of school staff is fantastic, they are open to taking on new initiatives, and to doing whatever it takes to improve the lives of children.
“The Healthy Schools Scheme in the Vale of Glamorgan gives a structured way of ensuring health is promoted across a wide range of topic areas, and not only for children but for staff and families too. The recent successes of these three schools are great examples of how schools are working together with parents and the local community, to benefit the health of children, and help them remain positive and resilient.”
The Vale of Glamorgan Healthy Schools Scheme is based within Cardiff and Vale Public Health Team and is delivered by Christine Farr and Catherine Perry.