The School as a Setting to Promote Student Health
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The Health Promoting School (HPS) is s a model that advances both the health and learning needs of students. Yet there is a lack of consensus on student indicators that reflect a HPS or a coherent understanding of what a HPS represents amongst various stakeholders. The goal of this research was to establish indicators of student health and wellbeing associated with policies and practices in schools, and to further our understanding of health promoting schools. The research proceeded in three phases. The first phase established a relationship between student health and academic achievement. The second phase examined the associations amongst student health and wellbeing and student and school-level factors. The third phase involved case studies of two schools in Ontario to examine the organisational and structural elements associated with achieving a HPS, and the mechanisms by which these elements support student health and wellbeing. The association between students’ self-rated health and their academic achievement found in the first phase provides a platform for advancing the health promoting school agenda in Canada at the research and policy levels. Subsequent findings established an association between the environment and disciplinary climate in schools, and the school’s academic and socioeconomic standing to student health and wellbeing outcomes. These findings also suggest overlapping effects of schools and neighbourhoods on students’ health and wellbeing, implying that school health promoting efforts will be more successful when partnered with efforts within neighbourhoods and communities. Finally, the case studies suggest that embracing a HPS philosophy that addresses students’ emotional and physical wellbeing may help support students’ overall learning. Findings, presented in an implementation model of a HPS, emphasise key action areas that need to be addressed when implementing HPS initiatives and enhancing the capability of the education system to improve the health and learning of students.