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Survey shows strong support for schools' role in children and young people's health and wellbeing

Published: 16 April 2024

A new survey conducted by Public Health Wales has shown that most people in Wales support schools and nurseries having a role in health and wellbeing outcomes for under 18s.  

The latest results from Public Health Wales’ Time to Talk Public Health panel survey show that support for the role of educational settings (e.g. schools and nurseries) was high across all nine child health and wellbeing areas asked about.  When asked to what extent they support or oppose education settings having a role in health and wellbeing, in the general population, the proportion responding “strongly support” was greatest for supporting online safety (77 percent), preventing smoking and vaping (76 percent), accessing support for mental health difficulties (74 percent), and preventing alcohol and drug misuse (74 percent).  

Even greater support was found among parents with children aged under 18 years, where the proportions responding “strongly support” were highest for online safety (84 percent), developing positive coping mechanisms (80 percent), accessing support for mental health difficulties (80 percent), developing positive relationship (78 percent), and preventing smoking and vaping (78 percent). Schools play a small but important role in promoting health and wellbeing among young people, and parental support has been identified in the wider literature as one of the key levers enabling settings to embed whole school approaches to health and wellbeing.  

Public Health Wales takes a leading role in promoting and implementing a whole-school and systems approaches to health and wellbeing. Three complementary programmes delivered by Public Health Wales, on behalf of the Welsh Government are the Welsh Network of Health and Well-being Promoting Schools (WNHWPS), the Whole School Approach to Emotional and Mental Well-being (WSAEMWB) and the Healthy and Sustainable Pre-school Scheme (HSPSS).   

Our teams provide local support to schools and early years settings, guided by national tools, guidance, and resources, to help identify their health and wellbeing priorities, develop action plans, and access additional support such as training, to meet the needs of their school community. 

Alexa Gainsbury, Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Wales, said: “While it’s important to be realistic about what schools can achieve, and to remember the importance of parental support, it is great to see such support for the positive role of education settings for the health and wellbeing of young people. Children and young people thrive in environments that nurture their health and wellbeing, be that in school or at home.  

“In Wales, our schools and early years education settings already understand the unique position they hold in influencing the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Their commitment to improving outcomes for all in their care is clear and so much has been achieved through partnership working already.  

“Our programmes also play a vital role in supporting settings promote the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Through locally embedded teams and national tools and guidance, the programmes support settings to take evidence-based action to embed health and wellbeing into the fabric of the school or nursery, supporting lifelong physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. 

“While schools and early years settings have a key function in supporting the health and well-being of children and young people, they are just one part of a far larger system that needs to work collaboratively to secure the best outcomes for children and young people and provide support to children, young people and their families when they need it.”