What is Comprehensive School Health?
Comprehensive School Health is a proven, vital component of
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Comprehensive school healthis an internationally recognized framework for supporting improvements in students’ educational outcomes while addressing school health in a planned, integrated and holistic way.
It is not just about what happens in the classroom. Rather, it encompasses the whole school environment with actions addressing four distinct but inter-related pillars that provide a strong foundation for comprehensive school health:
When actions in all four pillars are harmonized, students are supported to realize their full potential as learners – and as healthy, productive members of society.
Health and education are interdependent: healthy students are better learners, and better-educated individuals are healthier. Research has shown that comprehensive school health is an effective way to tap into that linkage, improving both health1 and educational outcomes2 and encouraging healthy behaviours that last a lifetime. In the classroom, comprehensive school health facilitates improved academic achievement and can lead to fewer behavioural problems3. In the broader school environment, it helps students develop the skills they need to be physically and emotionally healthy for life.
The term “comprehensive school health” is widely used in Canada. In other jurisdictions, the approach may be known as “health promoting school” or “coordinated school health” and its pillars may be expressed in different ways. However, the underlying concepts are the same; they are all based on the World Health Organization’s Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986).
1 Stewart-Brown, S. (2006). What is the evidence on school health promotion in improving health or preventing disease and, specifically, what is the effectiveness of the health promoting schools approach? Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe (Health Evidence Network report;http://www.euro.who.int/document/e88185.pdf, accessed 16 Sep. 2008).
2 Murray, N.D., Low, B.J., Hollis, C., Cross, A. Davis, S. (2007). Coordinated school health programs and academic achievement: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of School Health, 77 (9), 589-599.