Understanding the broader policy context behind Health Promoting Schools in Europe: Schools4Health maps eight EU countries

By Schools4Health consortium

A key objective of the Schools4Health project is to encourage and enable public authorities and other relevant actors to move from health promotion in schools towards applying more holistic Health Promoting School approaches. This is supported through the initiative’s policy component, which seeks to raise awareness, mainstream and scale up Health Promoting School approaches among policymakers and practitioners, and to engage them in efforts to integrate this approach in their national/sub-national contexts. 

As the second output of the project, the Schools4Health partners and participating authorities mapped different stakeholders in policy and practice, across levels of governance and sectors, to gain insight into the contribution that schools around Europe make to the health and wellbeing of students, staff, and the wider communities. The results of this mapping, gathered through surveys and roundtable discussions, are described in detail in the Schools4Health ‘Report on Policy and practice to strengthen the Health Promoting School approach across the EU’.

The Schools4Health consortium focused on scoping the current policy landscape across different participating municipalities, regions and countries influencing or impacting school wellbeing. This was done by identifying and bringing together key actors in the respective partner countries to discuss the broader policy context around health promotion in schools, and identify what is required, from a policy perspective, to introduce or strengthen the implementation of the Health Promoting School model in school settings.

The methodology
A three-step methodology was developed to set out the key phases that need to be undertaken to better understand the policy environment around Health Promoting School approaches. Schools4Health partners from Andalusia (Spain), Flanders (Belgium), Hungary, Greece, Riga (Latvia), the Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia were involved in this process, in support of their role as best practice donors or implementers. This included ‘Stakeholder analysis, outreach and engagement’, a ‘Rapid Situation Analysis (RSA) survey’ and ‘National roundtable meetings’.

  1. The first step towards understanding the policy environment around Health Promoting School approaches was the identification of core stakeholders with an interest in, and knowledge and understanding of the topic. A stakeholder matrix was developed to facilitate this process and map out the impact, relevance, and engagement of selected stakeholders.
  2. Between July and October 2023, the project partners circulated the Rapid Situation Analysis (RSA) survey among their selected stakeholders, to consult a minimum of 10-15 experts knowledgeable in their field and varied enough to provide valuable insights on the current policy landscape.
  3. Building on the initial results gathered through the rapid situation analysis exercise, roundtables were organised between September and November 2023 to engage invited stakeholders to more in-depth discussions on the findings. Partners were encouraged to invite around 15 stakeholders - stakeholders who undertook the Rapid Situation Analysis as well as others who were not engaged in this process, to add to and refine the results from the survey.

Following the roundtable meeting, partners were asked to write a policy report describing the key themes and discussions of the rapid situation analysis process, mapping out the opportunities and challenges as well as recommendations and next steps. 

Who took part?
Given the varying capacities at national/regional/local level, the number of stakeholders that responded to the survey and participated in the roundtable varied. The partnering authority in Andalusia, Spain reached out to and sent the survey in two phases; first to representatives from their health management team, decision makers in health promotion, the education management team, healthcare professionals, a policymaker in agriculture, a policymaker in childhood, a policy maker in health promotion, and a professional from the health promotion team, and then to school nurses in one primary health district of Andalusia. This resulted in 37 responses. All those who responded to the survey, as well as five school nurses, were invited to the round table, with a total of 21 attendees joining. 

Nine people participated in the roundtable in Hungary; 7 responded to the survey and 17 attended the round table in Latvia; 19 filled out the survey and 14 attended the round table in in Romania. In Greece, 8 filled out the survey and 10 stakeholders attended the round table, while in the Netherlands, 11 filled out the survey and 9 participated in the round table. 

The approach taken to the round table by the Flemish partner Gezond Leven was somewhat different, since the Flemish healthcare department had commissioned research in 2023 on preventative healthcare in schools, which addressed the broader questions included in the RSA. The result of this research was therefore used and supplemented by Gezond Leven, and subsequently presented to and discussed at a roundtable involving 30 participants working in education and health. 

Spotlight on health promotion at school in eight countries
In the following eight ‘spotlight’ articles published on the Schools4Health website, we’ll feature the results from the eight participating countries on our Updates page. Discover more findings from the survey and roundtable discussions in the full report published below.

The findings of the report will be used to set out some collective entry points for action relating to the policy context for the implementation of Health Promoting School approaches that the Schools4Health Consortium will build on during the course of the project and beyond.

Learn more about the Schools4Health project

Posted on 30/04/2024 by Schools4Health consortium

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