School health in action:

Setting direction for healthy schools

When it came time to freshen up their Administrative Procedure (AP) on health and well-being, leaders with Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS) took an evidence-informed and thoughtful approach. They recognized the value of school health policy in setting clear direction, and wanted to take the time to get it right.

CRPS pulled together a steering committee to guide the way, with members from each school, division leadership, and partner organizations. They committed to working collaboratively to revise and update the existing AP, aligned with best practices in school health policy. Let's take a look at what they did.

Getting started

The steering committee began by reviewing annual education result reports, focusing on performance data related to school health. Their goal was to get a clear picture of how students and staff were doing when it came to mental well-being, healthy eating, and physical activity. They also reflected on how updating the existing AP would support the division's philosophy of whole child education.

Next, the committee explored common language around school health, including key terms and definitions. They divided into three small groups, each tasked with reviewing best practices in school health policy specific to mental well-being, healthy eating, or active living.  

Writing the policy

Each small group drafted policy statements, trying to be as clear and specific as possible. Together with school authority leaders, they wrote and re-wrote each section, fine-tuning the language and identifying specific responsibilities for the school authority, school principals, and staff. They consulted with community partners familiar with evidence and best practices in school health policy.

As the updated AP came together, the steering committee began to communicate with the whole school community about what was happening — they helped staff, students, and families understand why a revised policy was needed, what it aimed to do, and how it would be rolled out. 

Putting it all together

AP 271: Healthy School Communities launched in April 2020. It set direction for creating and maintaining a culture of wellness across CRPS by: 

  • Providing background and rationale for the policy, aligned with research and guiding frameworks
  • Offering up definitions for mental well-being, healthy eating, and active living, and related terms
  • Specifying duties for CRPS leaders, principals, and school staff
  • Linking to related APs and guiding documents

Today, AP 271: Healthy School Communities is a roadmap for school health within CRPS. Its implementation is part of the annual education planning cycle, and professional learning sessions help staff understand their role. School health action groups at each school use the AP to guide planning, and community partners offer programs and resources that complement and reinforce it. Taken together, these examples tell the story of how school health policy can support and sustain a culture of well-being at school.

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