Health Promoting Schools programs

Eltham North Primary School is enhancing both health and educational outcomes through a whole school commitment to health and well-being using the ‘Achievement Program’.

The Victorian Health Promoting Schools and Early Childhood Education and Care Services Framework is based on the World Health Organization’s Health Promoting Schools model. It shows how schools can take a whole school approach to working towards meeting benchmarks for the health priority areas.

The eight health priority areas are:

  • Healthy eating and oral health
  • Physical activity
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Safe environments
  • Sun protection
  • Sexual health and wellbeing
  • Tobacco control
  • Alcohol and other dug use

Schools can work through health priorities simultaneously, at a pace that suits their needs. Once benchmarks for the health priorities have been met, the school can apply for recognition. Then they begin the cycle again, and the next two health priorities are selected, while continuing to monitor the health priorities that have already been focused on.

The Achievement Program can support schools to adopt a health promoting schools approach through coordinating action across the six components as described below.

The Achievement Program supports a whole-school approach to health and wellbeing. This approach brings together our school leadership, staff, students and families to work through an improvement cycle of planning, action and review. 

To lay the foundation for adopting a health promoting schools approach we are working through eight phases. The first three steps are described below …..

Stage 1: Establish a health and wellbeing team

What is our health and wellbeing team?

It is a representative group that focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of staff and students, and leads the cultural change within the school.

The composition of a health and wellbeing team is flexible and can exist as a group of members from both internal and external partners, or a broader network of representatives. Different schools will have different approaches, but ideally a range of partners will be involved to support health promotion planning and decision making.

Purpose of the health and wellbeing team?

  • Create interest in a health promoting schools approach and a vision for health and wellbeing.
  • Establish an environment that promotes health and wellbeing for the whole-school community.
  • Prevent changes being driven by one person which can impact on the sustainability of work.
  • Develop and build upon strategies to strengthen health promotion across the school.
  • Support the development of health related skills and knowledge through the curriculum.
  • Identify students, staff and family and wellbeing needs.
  • Strengthen staff participation in health and wellbeing promotion and development.
  • Guide partnership work with students, families and the local community in health and wellbeing.
  • Support the development and integration of school practice into policy and vice versa.
  • Monitor health and wellbeing activities, review goals and tracks progress.

Summary:  Establish a Healthy School team to support the implementation of the Achievement Program. The team should be representative of the whole school community and it’s important to engage people who can represent their peer groups and engage and motivate others. Representatives of our team include Principal, School Council parent members, PFA, Nillumbik Shire, teachers and parents.

Stage 2: Review current health and wellbeing practice

In reviewing our current health and wellbeing strategy, policies, programs and initiatives, we plan to recognise the good work we are already doing and identify what else we might want, or need, to do.   To explore current practices and needs we will review current health and well being activities; define health priorities and benchmarks; map our school data; map our community data.  With this information we will have a baseline of current health promotion policy and practice; a tool to monitor progress and an indication of any gaps and potential areas for health promotion action and a school health and well-being profile.

In 2015, as part of a comprehensive survey about healthy eating, parents were asked, “should the school continue to allow children to celebrate special occasions ie birthdays with treats such as lollies and cakes in the classroom?” Of the 150 families who responded, 72% indicated = ‘yes’. 14% = ‘undecided’ and 14% = ‘no’.  This result is viewed as an indication that families seek to continue to have treats shared.

Stage 3: Engage staff, families, students and the wider community in health and wellbeing

The first part of this step focuses on engaging staff, students and families by raising awareness of the health promoting schools approach and the Achievement Program, and consulting with them about health and wellbeing.

The second part of this step focuses on developing a health promotion charter. This document cements schools approach and is the culmination of all of the hard work involved in Steps 1–3 of the Achievement Program cycle.

Consultation ensures the input and feedback on health needs of the whole school community. There are many creative ways to engage, raise awareness and consult the school community.

We will be consulting with staff, students, parents and external partners and asking via compass survey, what you think are health and well-being priorities for our school so that we focus on and ensure future actions are based on identified needs that boost long-term engagement. Consultation is a great way to raise awareness of the health promoting school approach and the Achievement program.

A health promotion charter that reflects the whole school’s health and well-being beliefs and values will then be produced. As a communication tool it will identify and demonstrate a strong commitment to the values of the health promoting schools approach and way of working.

The Achievement Program Components represented in a diagram. The outer wheel identifies the 8 stages of the implementation process. In particular the highlighted ‘blue section’ are the current focus ie steps 1 -3.  The 8 coloured icons in the centre of the wheel identify the 8 health priority areas.

Our Journey over the past 10 years.

As a 5 Star Sustainable School, Eltham North felt that joining the Healthy Eating Schools program in 2006. We promoted action and change within the school, incorporating nutrition studies across different learning areas. We have fruit and vegetable breaks in class, use Water Fountains , Aqua BUBBLER water bottles for classrooms (hydration program) and include breakfast activities as special events. We have vegetable gardens and use our green house to grow herbs. Three orchard areas were planted with stone and citrus fruits.

Student environmental leaders have been instrumental in creating an active sustainable environment. The school web site and we have displays up in the atrium promoting the Good Food Guide and healthy lunch boxes. To minimise waste and promote recycling we encourage children not to bring packaging in their lunch boxes. The school is committed to healthy fundraising ideas. 

Additional Resources & Info:

Looking for healthy eating ideas for kids - see the Nutrition Australia website

Downloadable PDF Resources:

Healthy Lunch boxes

Reclaim your lunchbox

For a snack …

Sticks and Dip - Vegetable sticks in a plastic cup with a dollop of dip in the bottom

Googy Faces - shell hard boil eggs, place on a paddle pop stick (optional), wrap egg in glad wrap and draw a smiley face on the wrap with permanent pen.

Ants on a Log – fill celery sticks with low fat cream cheese and place sultanas across the top.

Nibble mix – combine air popped popcorn, breakfast cereal (e.g. Fruity Bix or Mini Wheats) and dried fruit. Serve in bags or plastic Tupperware containers.

Raisin bread – place raisin bread or fruit bread in the lunchbox as a snack. Spread with a little margarine or fruit spread. Avoid varieties with lots of icing.

Yoghurt – include at least one serving of dairy in the lunchbox each day e.g. yoghurt, cheese or milk. Choose low/reduced fat varieties for primary school aged children. Include a freezer pack in the lunchbox with yoghurt or milk on warmer days to keep them cool.

Healthy eating Lunch Box Ideas for lunch ….

Crunchy tuna pockets

♦ Take a can of tuna in spring water (drained) - a large tin of tuna will make several lunches, or for one, just use a small 100g tin and smaller amounts of diced vegetables

♦ Add in a handful of corn kernels, a handful of diced celery or diced capsicum or grated carrot (or any other diced vegetable in the fridge)

♦ Mix together with a drizzle of low fat mayonnaise

♦ Hollow out a small wholemeal roll or use a small pita bread and stuff with the tuna mixture and a bit of lettuce or alfalfa

Vegetable Frittata

Children love this recipe - not only is this tasty egg recipe yummy but it also provides lots of nutrition. Add lots of vegetables and chopped carrot for the vomit effect - gross yes, but you’ll be amazed how this novel name make this dish even more appealing to kids!


2 zucchinis, grated

1 onion, chopped

1 large carrot, grated

4 slices of lean ham,

chopped (or 3 rashers of diced, lean bacon)

1 cup grated reduced-fat cheese

1 cup self-raising flour

6 eggs, beaten

pepper to season


Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Pour into a greased slice tray and bake at 180°C for 30 – 45 minutes until brown and set in the centre. Cut into slices. Serve hot or cold.


Place in lunchbox next to ice pack to keep cold.

Or this recipe freezes well in wrapped portions and defrosts nicely by lunchtime.

Here are some relevant Health related school policies:

Other Healthy Eating Activities

Here are some recommended snack foods to consider for purchase......

Go Natural Popcorn bars

(everything except the fruit and nut bar are OK)

Piranha crackers

Piranha Double shot multigrain waves & noodles

Piranha Vege Crackers

Darshan vegetable noodles and vegetable crockettes

Sunrice Rice cakes

Achievements by Healthy Eating Schools

93% of schools developed a nutrition policy/action plan

All schools implemented nutrition related activities into the curriculum

75% ran nutrition-related professional development sessions for teaching staff and 90% of schools reported implementing ideas presented in these workshops

91% had implemented fruit and vegetable breaks - KETA Kiwi fruit launches – in 13 schools

91% of schools provided non-food classroom rewards

96% of schools had a classroom water initiative

89% made healthy canteen menu changes

50% of schools made links with local organisations

50% Healthy Fundraising alternatives (Walkathons; Fun Runs; Trivia Nights; School Food Fairs)

68% of schools have established vegetable patches

50% of schools made links with local organisations

50% held parent information sessions.

91% placed healthy eating inserts in the school newsletter.

68% held Healthy Eating Celebrations including Healthy Lunch Days; Healthy Hat Parade; Healthy Harold Day; Fruit Smoothie Day; Jaffle Day; Fruit & Vege Week

Reclaim the Lunchbox Program is a great program that supports Victorian primary schools, in particular those from low socio-economic areas and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups, to promote healthy eating to children and their families. The Program is based on the Health Promoting Schools model where strategies provided promote healthy eating across the whole school, including the curriculum, families and the school environment, such as the canteen and fundraising.


• To provide activities to schools to assist them in supporting families to provide and promote healthy food choices.

• To provide resources to schools to assist them in supporting families to provide and promote healthy food choices.

• To provide resources and support to schools to assist them in providing initiatives that promote healthy eating across the whole school environment (e.g. healthy eating activities in the curriculum, healthy fundraising, classroom fruit breaks and policy development).

Information and resources on healthy lunches and healthy eating

Information on healthy lunches and healthy eating for children has been provided to schools in the form of newsletter inserts, healthy lunchbox posters, a photographic healthy lunchbox/budgeting display, term newsletters and regular emails, reaching all families within the school communities – approximately 8,800 children.

Starter packs of nutrition curriculum resources and newsletters have been provided to support approximately 550 teachers in teaching the healthy eating message to students. A healthy fundraising manual, case studies, a newsletter and emails with healthy fundraising ideas has also been provided to support schools in implementing fundraising activities that reinforce the healthy eating message. Healthy eating stickers featuring cartoon characters promoting the five food groups were provided to teachers to reward students with healthy lunchboxes. A lunchbox classroom activity sheet was also provided to teachers to engage students with the healthy eating message.

School staff coordinating the Program were surveyed (response rate of 75%) regarding the use, and rating of usefulness, for these resources provided. The results are summarised below.

Resources % schools who used the resource Rating of usefulness

Nutrition Newsletter inserts 91% 90% very or extremely useful 

Lunchbox Poster 75% 67% very or extremely useful

Lunchbox Dilemma Laminated

Photo Display Kit 91% 80% very or extremely useful

Quarterly Healthy Eating

Schools Newsletters(e-mailed)

83% 70% very or extremely useful

Healthy Fundraising Manual 83% 70% very or extremely useful

Canteen Menu Assessment 58% 100% very or extremely useful

Reclaim the Lunchbox Workshops:

• 87% parents surveyed found the workshop helpful or very helpful in improving their knowledge in providing healthy lunch choices for their child;

• 100% of parents surveyed had tried some of the ideas discussed at the lunchbox workshops;

• 74% of parents surveyed had used the recipes from the recipe book provided at the workshop;

• 87% of parents surveyed reported that the food nutrition label reading activity in the workshop has assisted them in choosing healthier products at the supermarket. 13% had not had a chance to try this yet; and

• 80% of parents surveyed reported making changes to their child’s lunchbox since attending the workshop.

Major changes to the lunchbox listed include:

Less unhealthy packaged snacks such as crisps, which were replaced with high fibre, more nutritious snacks (eg. popcorn or wholemeal Vitawheats with jam) 53%

Changing from white to wholemeal/wholgrain breads and products 46%

Including more vegetables 33%

Include more variety 27%

Including more dairy and fruit serves 3%


Presenting foods in fun ways e.g. different shaped sandwiches

All the school staff surveyed who were coordinating the HES Program rated the lunchbox workshop held for parents at their school as successful (40%) or very successful (60%) in encouraging parents to provide healthy lunches. Seventy percent of those surveyed rated the

overall HES Lunchbox Package (workshops plus other resources and support) as successful

(50%) or very successful (20%) in helping parents and the school in encouraging healthy eating


What are the lasting benefits of the project?

As detailed above, evaluation revealed an actual positive impact on making changes to what parents are providing their children to eat. Changes to lunchboxes reported including an increase in fruit and vegetables, changes to higher fibre foods and a decrease in high fat, high kilojoule, nutrient poor packaged snacks. Parents reported increased skills and practice in reading labels and choosing healthier products at the supermarket and increased knowldege of what foods and drinks to provide their families, for example, changing to reduced fat milk, as detailed in the impact evaluation section above (refer to the table at the top of page 7).

This increased capacity of parents and changes to children’s lunchboxes as a result of this Program will contribute to the long-term benefits on improving the food intake and nutrition of children. Good nutrition is a key factor for optimal health, growth and learning in children and the prevention of obesity and other chronic lifestyle disease.

Furthermore, the evaluation results reported above indicate an increased capacity, awareness and commitment of schools in providing and promoting healthy food choices. Schools have reported activities that will have a long-term impact on improving eating habits of children including environmental changes, such as changes to canteen menus, healthier fundraising activities and fruit breaks in class. This has a direct positive impact on increasing children’s consumption of more nutritious foods and drinks while they are at school. There is also increased awareness and motivation to educate and inform students and their community on healthy eating, with the provision of regular nutrition newsletter information, an information display put up at school, health education being included in the curriculum and utilising resources from the Program. Sustainability strategies employed by the Program are providing schools with resources that allow school staff over the years to easily continue to maintain the healthy eating messages and education, such as the lunchbox DVD, nutrition newsletter inserts and displays. School staff report the resources and activities provided by the Program have increased their capacity and enthusiasm to support families and children with the healthy lunchbox message.

Great information site for parents:  People's Health and Nutrition: 

go to

Drug Education:

The Health Education team have recently updated the School Drug Education policy

The Depatment of Education has produced a valuable Information Kit for parents.