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Gold for Waltham Forest! More success in healthy schools campaign

Borough schools involved in a London-wide health awards programme have been reaching new heights of success in 2016 – and this month one local primary has gone a step further by becoming the first school in Waltham Forest to receive a gold award for its commitment to health and wellbeing.



The Healthy Schools London programme, which is supported and managed locally by the Council’s Public Health team, sees schools given bronze, silver or gold awards based on their efforts to create an environment that safeguards and promotes the health and wellbeing of pupils, staff and the wider school community.



At the start of the year, Waltham Forest had just three silver award schools – but fast forward 12 months and the borough now boasts eight schools that have achieved silver, along with 27 bronze.



And, staff and students at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, in Chingford, have been celebrating this month, as they became Waltham Forest’s first gold award school.



Healthy Schools London awards focus on four key areas – emotional health and wellbeing, physical activity, healthy eating and personal, social and health education (PSHE) – with schools focusing more on their individual health needs for the silver and gold awards.



St Mary’s Catholic Primary School’s gold award application centred on healthy eating, specifically increasing the number of pupils eating fruit and vegetables with lunchtime meals along with improving food growing in the school.



Headteacher Philomena Egan said: “We were delighted to be awarded the Healthy Schools gold award which reflects the commitment by the whole school community to encourage our pupils to make healthy choices with their eating.



“All of our pupils now understand what constitutes a healthy balanced meal. This knowledge enables them to make healthy choices at meal times and will have a positive impact on their lives.



“Our Year 4 class were able to grow and eat a selection of fruit and vegetables in our school garden whilst our Year 3 class used talents to lead an assembly on ‘Healthy Bodies & Healthy Minds’.”



St Mary’s is not the only school to have made significant achievements around health and wellbeing in the past year. Davies Lane Primary School and Gwyn Jones Primary School in Leytonstone, along with Thorpe Hall Primary School, Kelmscott School, and Willowfield Humanities College, in Walthamstow, have all made successful bids for silver awards.



Currently, more than three quarters of schools in the borough take part in the Healthy Schools London programme, and the Council’s Public Health team is on hand to support any school interested in signing up.



Cllr Grace Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Every school taking part in the Healthy Schools London programme deserves to be congratulated for demonstrating a clear commitment to creating healthy environments for our young people.



“And of course, a special well done must go to St Mary’s – I hope the hard work and dedication shown by its school community will inspire others to strive to achieve the same success.”



Cllr Ahsan Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We’ve seen some fantastic work take place in our schools recently to educate young people about the importance of good health and wellbeing as they grow up.



“For example, earlier this year we became the first borough to launch a Youth Health Champions programme, which sees peer mentors promote health and wellbeing among other young people. Since September, these mentors have already helped increase awareness of healthy and active lifestyles through campaigns around exam stress, emotional wellbeing, stopping smoking, anti-bullying and LGBT rights.”



Partnership working is key to improving health outcomes, and at primary school level the Council’s Public Health team is working alongside London Sport to deliver a mentoring programme to improve sport and physical activity, as well as working with London Play to increase physical activity levels across three schools in the borough.



The Council has also successfully secured funding to improve food culture and provision in schools through the Food for Life awards scheme, which champions the benefits of healthy, tasty and sustainable food.



For more information about Healthy Schools London visit www.healthyschoolslondon.gov.uk. To learn more about the work of the Council’s Public Health team, visit the Council’s website.

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