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Evaluation of the National Healthy Schools Programme

Children playing football
Researchers: David Hussey
Published: June 2011


We measured whether pupils' health-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviour improved as a result of The National Healthy Schools Programme (NHSP), and mapped the activities that had facilitated and hindered improvement.


NHSP did not have a significant positive impact on pupil knowledge or behaviour

Over the two years of the evaluation, we found no significant changes in pupil knowledge, attitudes or behaviour in relation to healthy eating, physical activity or Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) either at primary or secondary level.

Staff also identified certain factors which prevent change, for example:

  • staff engagement with the programme;
  • negative external influences from parents or peers;
  • schools' limited contact time with pupils.

The majority of school co-ordinators thought that the NHSP had impacted on their practices and provision, although some found it difficult to attribute changes solely to the NHSP.

77 per cent of school co-ordinators said that the NHSP had an impact on schools' provisions for healthy eating

There was an improvement to the physical environment in canteens, there were healthier menus and cooking sessions and gardening clubs were run.

87 per cent said that the NHSP had some impact on their schools' provision of PSHE

Respondents cited the appointment of PSHE Co-ordinators, work on specific behaviours (i.e. during anti-bullying week) and increased use of external agencies such as the Police and Fire services.

72 per cent said the NHSP had some impact on physical activity provision

The proportion offering at least one lunchtime or after-school sports or exercise activity had significantly increased between autumn 2007 and autumn 2009, as did the proportion of secondary schools providing access to sports equipment at break-times or lunchtimes.


Quantitative element: telephone interviews with 275 school co-ordinators and a pupil self-completion survey in 152 schools.

Qualitative element: interviews with the headteacher and/or healthy schools coordinator in 20 schools.

Read the report