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De La Salle College


There are no barriers to improving the health of our students. We have very supportive and passionate staff, all with similar values and great technical skills. We also have strong support from our student prefects. We are developing our students from the first year they are here, through activity and the curriculum



The school ethos and organisation

Basketball team.

The principal believes that health promotion is as important as education, saying: “You can’t achieve quality education without it.” Half a page of the school newsletter is regularly devoted to various aspects of students’ health.

De La Salle has a food policy that covers both what is sold at school and what is provided at school camps. One aspect of this is that the college no longer permits fizzy drink to be consumed at school, and since these drinks were banned teachers believe students’ behaviour and capacity to learn have improved.

Year 7 and 8 students have access to a free breakfast at school once a week, and up to 30 boys use this service. They are provided with cereal, milk, Milo, fruit, and toast, and are given the opportunity to complete their homework and read the newspaper before school starts.

Curriculum programmes

Hauora is taught in years 7 to 11, while nutrition awareness is developed during years 7 to 9. Hands-on cooking lessons have helped develop the boys’ appreciation of nutrition and given them practical food preparation skills.

Of major significance in the curriculum is the year 13 health promotion project, which has NCEA credits attached. Students are encouraged to research a topic of their choice and give recommendations to teachers and the principal on improving some aspect of the school environment or teaching. One project in 2007 looked at the nutritional value of canteen foods, while another developed visual illustrations of the quantity of sugar in carbonated drinks and fat in various foods.

The head of the college’s Health Department has been pivotal in developing an exemplary health curriculum that is compulsory for all students. Boys are introduced to the health curriculum and the concepts of hauora and nutrition from year 7.

The principal says: “Change won’t happen quickly. It requires putting health into teaching and learning, and involving the prefects and students. It has to start early with the students, as part of their induction process to the school.”

Co-curricular health promotion opportunities

The health curriculum is supported and reinforced through non-health subjects. For example, in economics classes, students compare the cost of different trends in lunch purchasing. Another teacher runs a budgeting project each year where he illustrates that you can feed a class of students for $5. The teacher buys bread, luncheon sausage, tomatoes, and lettuce and feeds a class of nearly 30 students.

The students have also noticed changes in the school. More of them gain academic awards and show improved sports performance, and they believe some of this is the result of eating better. The students also believe what they have learnt at school has encouraged them to eat breakfast in the mornings and to avoid fizzy drinks.

The head of department for health believes the boys are much healthier than they used to be. Their attitudes are more positive, and they have become critical thinkers with mature responses to delicate topics (such as sexual health). The school environment has also improved: the students no longer mock others, and they are more tolerant and accepting of people.

The school and community environment

The year 13 students at De La Salle believe health promotion is vitally important in schools. They also believe it is more effective when “students lead, rather than staff. When teachers tell you what to do, it doesn’t work.”

One example of student-led action is the changes to the school canteen, which members of the student council instigated as part of their curriculum learning. They surveyed fellow students about their eating patterns and how much they were willing to spend on food, and measured how many students purchased food at school and the top food purchases at the canteen.

The students identified the most and least popular purchases, and dropped the least favoured items. The cost of food has dropped overall because the foods that were least popular were subsidising other items. As a result, fruit and other healthy options are now cheaper. The school now buys more fresh fruit and fruit salad from the school food wholesaler than any other school in the South Auckland area.

The school has pastry-free days on Fridays, when no pies or sausage rolls are served. Combo purchasing has also been introduced where, for example, a mouse trap and fruit are sold together. The canteen makes "fabulous sandwiches" and continually promotes bread-based lunch options.

School and community partnerships

The changes in the canteen were achieved through good communication with staff, students, and outside agencies (including the National Heart Foundation and Diabetes Projects Trust).

Five years ago, few of the boys ate fruit, and a large number of sweet wrappers were scattered about the college grounds. The school received support from the Heart Foundation and soon achieved the School Food Programme Bronze award. Other influences were seminars with the All Blacks’ nutritionist and external factors such as the push for better nutrition by the government and other sectors.

With its high level of participation in sport, the college has also found that focusing on good nutrition for sports performance has encouraged students to eat well. The school is involved in other projects such as Kids in Action, a programme run by the Ta Pasefika Health Trust, which helps overweight children and their families become healthier through nutrition and physical activity.

Staff members model healthy eating and physical activity, and parents are very supportive of the efforts to improve the students’ health and education. Many of them know, for example, that tinned corned beef and saturated fat are unhealthy, but they do not always know how to make changes. The school encourages the students to work with their parents to make nutrition/health changes at home.

A newsletter regularly sent out to parents is picture-focused because some parents have low literacy in English. The school uses these and the annual parent–teacher meetings and "pastoral" evenings to introduce ideas directly to parents and families, and to show that the school is "caring for your boy".

De La Salle has a strong "old boys" community. The principal says; “We have old boys who are young dads, professionals and educated coming along to watch sports. It’s a very supportive community.” The students have more regard for the school’s old boys than they do for sporting superstars because they can relate the former students’ successes to their own lives. The students say, “Messages are more effective when they come from former students, students who really achieved.”

The former students have many ideas to continue the good work. They want to help the boys develop food shopping skills, encourage fathers to participate in more of the boys’ learning, especially about their eating habits, and possibly deliver a food programme through the church community. Senior students are also working towards developing a loyalty programme with the wholesaler who provides the canteen food.