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Schools and Educational Settings

Schools and educational settings play a critical role in supporting healthy child development and enabling young people to develop to their full potential. Investing in child and adolescent health provides a “triple dividend,” optimising healthy growth and development, promoting future adult health and supporting the health of the next generation, which in turn brings wider social and economic returns on investment. Given their near-universal reach, educational settings provide a major opportunity to deliver significant public health interventions.

Health and education are closely intertwined, with healthy development essential for optimal learning, and higher educational attainment associated with better health outcomes. “Whole-systems” approaches within educational settings aim to impact at multiple levels (e.g. organisational structures, ethos, policies and practices) and on various outcomes, and offer the potential for wider sustainable and cost-effective change. The transdisciplinary complex adaptive systems model, for example, is a promising way forward to support infrastructural and sustainable change within education settings. Based on this approach, this workstream will develop and test innovative systems-level interventions which embed health and wellbeing within the organisational and social structures of schools.

The team have extensive expertise in conducting school-based surveys (e.g. the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study, HBSC) and collaborating with schools to develop and evaluate complex interventions, across a range of health-related outcomes. Through the SHINE and TRIUMPH networks we sustain a focus on mental health while also enabling schools to be responsive to other identified needs, thus facilitating a “bottom-up”, co-production approach to school health improvement research, action planning and intervention development.

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