Slovenian Network of Healthy Schools leads the way and needs a resource boost to reach more schools: Schools4Health policy mapping

By Schools4Health consortium

Health promotion activities in Slovenian primary and secondary schools are carried out by health staff, mostly nurses. As recommended by its national guidelines, paediatricians are also in contact with parents and teachers on health-related matters such as HPV vaccination, obesity and physical fitness. Improvements have been made to the preventive universal health programme for children and youth in the area of health education in school settings, which has supported multidisciplinary interventions at the primary care level, where different health professionals work with families of children with overweight or obesity and low physical fitness, also in cooperation with schools. 

Within the context of the Health Promoting School approach, the Slovenian Network of Healthy Schools was mentioned in the Slovenian Schools4Health survey report and roundtable discussion as an important platform, gathering over 70% of primary schools, 50% of secondary schools and more than 50% of schools with programmes for children with special needs. This network helps innovate health promotion and provide additional training for teachers. However, the current lack of resources hinders the network from providing the necessary support.

The nutrition of children and adolescents in primary and secondary educational establishments is regulated by the School Nutrition Act. The report notes that students in need are eligible for school meal subsidies and the cost of school kitchen staff is reimbursed by the national budget. This Act also mandates legally binding guidelines on school nutrition, which are used to organise the implementation of school meals and help schools define educational activities related to nutrition in their annual work plans. Revised guidelines, which were drawn up in coordination with the health and educational sectors, were recently adopted in 2023.

Other initiatives are also available to boost the intake of healthy local produce in schools, such as the Slovenian Food Day and Traditional Slovenian Breakfast. Resources are available to support the implementation of the EU School Scheme and healthy school meals. While this creates an important foundation for healthy nutrition, several challenges were identified in the report, including a shortage of school kitchen staff, lack of space in primary schools to make school meals and increasing demands regarding school meals from students and parents. Overall, the report noted that the school nutrition system needed improving and protecting, raising the importance of good planning and coordination to sustain nationwide efforts. 

The report indicates that all students must engage in a mandatory level of physical activity in schools. Fitness monitoring programmes such as SLOFit have provided valuable information for parents and medical doctors, allowing lifelong monitoring of students’ physical performance. On mental health, the report indicates that while major developments were achieved in recent years, unmet needs are still substantial and better coordination is needed between services. 
About the Schools4Health mapping of health promoting school policies in the EU
This article is an extract of the Schools4Health ‘Report on policy and practice to strengthen the Health Promoting School approach across the EU’. 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. It means bringing together different stakeholders in policy and practice, across levels of governance and sectors, to optimise the contribution that schools can make to the health and wellbeing of students, staff, and the wider communities.

As a first step, 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.

Visit the Schools4Health website to access all resources from the project  

Posted on 23/05/2024 by Schools4Health consortium

"Project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Neither the European Union nor HaDEA can be held responsible for them."