Melksham area schools have been recognised for the health and wellbeing of their pupils at a celebration held recently at Manor School.

Eleven schools which completed the Healthy Schools Programme were awarded a special plaque marking their achievements. Their participation in the programme was supported by funding from the Melksham Area Board, enabling school staff to access local training and support each other.

The programme accredits schools that have provided evidence to show how their provision effectively supports the health and wellbeing of their pupils. Schools can work towards bronze, silver or gold levels to achieve Wiltshire Healthy Schools status. To be accredited schools need to meet certain standards based on local and national priorities.

Each Melksham Healthy School has been working on projects encouraging a healthy lifestyle, with a focus on promoting healthy weight. Working as part of a local cluster has encouraged collaborative working between local schools, sharing of resources and best practice. This model is now being used by other area boards, to encourage more schools to address local health priorities by becoming Healthy Schools.

Forest and Sandridge Church of England Primary School achieved the gold award following its work on promoting dental health and raising awareness of the sugar content in foods. The school had previously achieved the silver award after a drive to keep playtimes active. The initiative had such an impact the school decided to aim for the gold award, with Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE) leader Jen Hale co-ordinating activities to develop children’s understanding including visits from dental hygenists and nurses. The numbers of children now cleaning their teeth twice a day has risen to more than 90% in the school.

Headteacher Anna Wilcox said, “We previously went for the silver award with a drive on keeping playtimes active and this is now well established. We didn’t want to leave it there as we could see the positive long lasting impact so we decided to go for the gold award focussing on oral health and understanding the sugar content of different foods. This has led to a dramatic increase in understanding of sugar content and in the number of children brushing their teeth twice a day. We are very proud of the fact these initiatives mean we are one of the few schools in Wiltshire to achieve a gold award.”

Currently 73 schools have Wiltshire Healthy Schools at bronze, silver or gold level. A total of 116 schools are taking part to achieve the programme with more signed up to join later this month.

The multiagency group granting the awards includes police, school health nurses, school representatives, Wiltshire & Swindon Sports Partnership and others. The council and agencies support the schools as they work towards the standards.

The local programme supports schools and provides information on key actions that can be taken as well as providing training. The progress of schools is monitored, including the positive impact on the health behaviours of young people.

Further information about our Healthy Schools programme can be found here.