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Grovetown Primary School

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We are impressed with how committed the entire school is to creating a healthy environment

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Staff from District Health Board

The school ethos and organisation

Grovetown Primary takes its commitment to being a Health Promoting School seriously. In 2007, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board agreeing

Lunch.

to promote health at the school. The students drafted their section in the memorandum and did presentations illustrating the school’s health-promoting ethos at various meetings (and often came away with more ideas they wanted to pursue). As a result, the staff at the DHB are impressed with how committed the entire school is to creating a healthy environment.

The school tries not to start activities that are the passion of just one person, as these have been found to be hard to sustain. Health promotion is integrated into other school activities, and the school attitude is "doing what is best for the students".

Curriculum programmes

The healthy eating message is constantly reinforced and integrated into other activities around the school. As much as possible, all work units are integrated across the curriculum, at all levels, for all students. When the school did a unit on sleep, it culminated in a pyjama day and healthy breakfast.

Co-curricular health promotion opportunities

The food at the school disco was fruit kebabs and vegetable platters. School camp menus are designed by students and based on healthy eating principles. Fruit, bread, and spreads are kept in the school kitchen for students who have not had breakfast or lunch, and in the winter terms hot Milo is provided.

The school and community environment

Celery and carrot.

There has recently been a big improvement in the food at the school. Concern about unhealthy food sold at the school and brought from home promoted staff and parents to investigate healthier food options. As a result, two mothers sell $5 lunches to students and teachers on Fridays – with the aim of providing enough food for the whole day, introducing children to new foods, and having a system that is achievable, affordable, enjoyable, and most of all, healthy!

The lunches are based on 5+ a Day and consist of five items – for example, one savoury item (usually bread-based), three servings of fruit, and a piece of home baking. The children are deliberately not given a choice, which means they try new foods and parents know exactly where their $5 goes. Parents say that children are requesting some of the new foods they have tried in these lunches at home.

The "lunch ladies" organised the whole system from scratch, including registering the kitchen and ensuring good food-handling practices are always followed. A deal for cheaper fruit has been agreed with local growers.

The students’ positive response to the healthy food and the expressions on the students’ faces as they try new foods has made the commitment worthwhile for the two "lunch ladies". They are confident that the Friday lunch system will be so well entrenched by the time they move on that the school will have no problem continuing the service.

The principal notes that the school is also fortunate in having no other food stores close by where the children might be tempted to buy unhealthy food.

School and community partnerships

The school had to look for sustainable ways to provide fruit to the students because it did not qualify for the School Fruit scheme. As a result, a local orchardist donated a variety of fruit trees to the school.

In 2005, a Healthy School Committee was established, which includes pupils, staff, a Board of Trustees representative, parents, Health Promoting Schools coordinator, and a DHB representative. Being a member of the committee is seen as a serious commitment by the students. They must write an application letter and be formally appointed. The students are all given responsibility and, with a little adult direction, they run the committee and drive the health initiatives.

The Health Promoting Schools coordinator and principal say the biggest problem is "holding the kids back", because they are so enthusiastic. The children are listened to and encouraged to determine how their ideas might work in practice. The principal believes that giving the children ownership of school activities and projects is likely to make them more sustainable. The school’s biggest asset is adults who are prepared to run with the children’s ideas and make them work.


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