Health Promoting Schools (HPS) is a global initiative aimed at supporting school communities to improve the health and well-being of their students, staff, and whānau. Successful HPS schools have strategies for identifying and addressing their priorities for health and well-being in all their processes and practices.
In New Zealand, HPS is offered to primary schools in low socio-economic areas. The Ministry of Health contracts district health boards and public health units to deliver the service. Cognition Education is commissioned to provide national support, direction, and leadership.
The research underpinning the HPS model
International evidence shows a reciprocal relationship between outcomes for health and well-being and those for student achievement. In New Zealand, a strong body of research affirms this connection. Much of this research on the value of growing educationally powerful partnerships within and across school communities. These are caring, respectful relationships that centre focus on learning.
The logic for the HPS model
The logic for the HPS model is based upon this research. It predicts that high-performing health promoting schools will also be high-performing with regard to teaching and learning and educationally powerful relationships. Effective teaching and learning and educationally powerful relationships will in turn result in higher levels of student achievement. The graph below illustrates this logic.
Testing the model
We tested the HPS model by comparing the student achievement data from 106 HPS schools with their ratings on the HPS health and well-being rubric. The rubric measures the extent to which schools:
• are successful in promoting health and wellbeing
• have quality relationships that support learning
• deliver effective teaching and learning.
The achievement data was 2014 Reading/Pānui National Standards obtained from the Education Counts website. http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/statistics/schooling/national-standar...(The National Standards describe expected achievement at the end of each year of learning.)
What we found
This graph shows a significant positive correlation between schools’ ratings on the HPS rubric and student achievement in national standard in reading . This suggests that schools with higher levels of the factors known to enable HPS are also likely to have higher levels of student achievement.
The data does not prove that more advanced HPS capacity and capability has alone led to higher levels of student achievement. However, the positive relationship is consistent with the logic for the HPS model and with the wider body of research that links health and well-being to educational success.
Correlation between schools’ average rating on the HPS rubric and the proportion of students that met or exceeded the national standard in reading (106 schools)