Children deserve better

Much more needs to be done to improve UK children’s health, the Chief Medical Officer has said in a frank assessment of the state of the health of the nation’s children.
Her latest report calls on government, the whole health service, social care and education professionals to take action and make improvements now.
In addition to improvements on physical health, the report highlights the need for society to support children to build emotional resilience, supporting children through better communication to learn from their mistakes and deal with life’s inevitable ‘ups and downs’.
The report paints a stark picture of the experience children have growing up in our society, as well as the dramatic difference between the experiences of poor children and better-off children. The report highlights that:
• Other countries do much better than the UK when it comes to children’s health. Over a quarter (nearly 27 per cent) of our children are either in or at serious risk of being in poverty, compared to just 16 per cent in the Netherlands;
• Currently, 12.5 per cent of toddlers are obese. 17 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls up to the age of fifteen are obese too. The long-term societal cost of childhood obesity is estimated to be as high as £700 million each year; and
• 75 per cent of lifetime mental health disorders start before 18 years of age, with the peak onset of most conditions being from 8 to 15 years. Approximately 10 per cent of adolescents suffer from a mental health problem at any one time. The report also highlights a number of good examples of things that are already going on, like the government commitment to increasing the number of health visitors and the number of families that will be helped by family nurse practitioners. But it calls for wider and faster action.
Recommendations for change in the Chief Medical Officer’s report include:
• Public Health England, the PSHE Association and other leading independent organisations in the field should review the evidence linking health and wellbeing with educational attainment, and from that promote models of good practice for educational establishments to use.
• Public Health England should work with local authorities, schools and relevant agencies to build on current efforts to increase participation in physical activity and promote evidence based innovative solutions that lead to improved access to existing sports facilities.
• A named GP should be available for every child with long term conditions;
• A review of the cost-effectiveness of extending the Healthy Start Vitamin Programme to every child: NICE should be asked to examine the cost-effectiveness of offering the Healthy Start vitamins to every child. Healthy Start vitamins contain vital ingredients for children’s development, including vitamins A, C, D – all critical for growth, vision, healthy skin and strong bones;
• A new national children’s week to help change our national culture to celebrate children and young people and help bring together the myriad of organisations with the power to make a difference – including government, charities and the NHS;
• A regular survey on mental health among children and young people, including comparisons with other developed countries, should be commissioned and published annually, to improve the evidence base for meeting young people’s mental health needs.

Case study – Offering Vitamin D supplements to everyone in Birmingham
The current Healthy Start vitamin programme includes minerals vital for children’s development, including vitamins A, C, D – all critical for growth, vision, healthy skin and strong bones. It is targeted at children in families who receive certain benefits and aims to bring the health of the poorest up to the standard of their classmates from better-off backgrounds.
In Birmingham they offer vitamin D universally and have seen a huge boost in the number of people taking up the offer. Nationally, we know that low numbers of eligible families take up the offer of vitamin D for their children. But in Birmingham, they made it universal and now one in five take up the tablets, meaning thousands more children have the building blocks for healthy bones. The scheme also halved the number of cases of rickets and other vitamin D deficiency problems, and led to big increases in public awareness of the need for vitamin D.

For further information visit


Our autumn newsletter

As the clocks go back and the long winter nights approach, what could be better to sit down and read than our Autumn term newsletter!!!! You’ll find some of the best bits from the blog, updates from people like CEOP and the DfE, and info on new resources to borrow or buy. If you would like the PSHE/Safeguarding/Emotion health work of your school to be featured in future issues then do let us know. Download a copy here.HES autumn newsletter email version

Can PBs help children and young people use new media safely?

It seems that at the moment not a day goes by without a report being published highlighting the problems of social media, the internet and the potentially risky situations it can lead children and young people into. Today saw the ISC2 IT security education group publish their findings from a survey of 1162 nine to 11 years olds which found 18% of the children queried said they had arranged offline meetings with friends made via the web. In 50% of these cases, the children went alone. Many are also sharing personal information and playing games rated for much older children.

Meanwhile, a second survey from the Anti-Bullying Alliance suggests 55% of young people in England accept cyberbullying as part of everyday life.

These come on top of the statistics last week showing the prevalence in young people of ‘sexting’ and the acceptance of this behaviour being the norm. The ICS2 study reveals that in their young sample 6% have posted a picture of themselves online or sent a picture to someone by text message that they would NOT want their family (Mum, Dad, Aunt, Uncle or Grandparent, etc.) to see.
We should ask ourselves do children really understand the level of risk they may be putting themselves in, and do they really understand how to be safe and what ‘being safe’ really means. The Protective Behaviours approach may help schools start to address some of these issues as it introduces children to an internal measure of safety rather than relying on an external reference; giving them strategies for self-protection; and crucially encouraging children to know the value and importance of emotional well-being. If you would like further information on Protective Behaviours then please contact Liz Bates on
Full reports at

New figures on scale of ‘sexting’

Childline released the findings of their most recent research into young people and ‘sexting’ this week. In the survey of 13-18 year olds:
60 per cent said they had been asked for a sexual image or video of themselves
40 per cent said they had created an image or video of themselves
25 per cent said they had sent an image or video of themselves to someone else
Over half of the young people surveyed said they had received a sexual photo or video, most received them from a partner but a third received them from a stranger
Whilst most said the image went to a boyfriend or girlfriend, a third said they sent it to someone they met online but didn’t know in real life and 15 per cent said they had sent it to a total stranger.
For the full report visit

Earlier in the year CEOP release guidance for schools on dealing with sexting. ‘‘Sexting’ in schools: advice and support around self-generated images: What to do and how to handle it’ contains practical advice about how schools should respond to an incident, including how to support a child whose image has been shared and whether or not devices can be searched. Download the booklet and the supporting materials from

UK kindness day

If you’re not doing anything special on November 13th why not celebrate Kindness Day.
The idea is to promote the value of kindness and encourage children to be kind.This can also be linked to anti-bullying week
Let’s encourage children (and adults) to always make the choice to be kind.
All primary schools should have received a pack from Kindness UK but if not, visit their website to order a free pack and download certificates, stories and activities.
For more information please contact or visit

Global citizenship – gain up to £5000 for your school

The Royal Geographical Society are looking for secondary and primary schools to take part in a global Citizenship project funded through DfID. The school will get up to £5000 towards their involvement and agree to work with up to 10 other local schools who will each receive £500 in e-learning credits.
Schools who are interested in finding out more please get in touch with by 24th October.

Secondary schools get growing

HFL Secondary logo

Six secondary schools have embarked on a year of growing, cooking, healthy eating and physical activities. They are all involved in the Health for Life in Secondary Schools programme. This is a grant funded project that is looking to support schools to develop healthy lifestyles.
Raised beds are being built and planted, poly tunnels are being constructed, cooking equipment purchased, as well as the odd chicken being reared. Some schools are delivering coaching sessions and others buying Boxercise equipment to encourage more participation after a pupil consultation process. All the activities are supported by a £6000 grant to ensure sustainable developments. The programme is funded by Mondelez International with delivery from the Health Education Service and Life Education West Midlands. The schools will all be working towards the action plan they have developed to improve their delivery and practice around healthy lifestyles
Some highlights of the year are sure to be:
– The Colmers Bake off, where pupils are going head to head with the staff to make a healthy cake.
– Lordswoods Girls heritage orchard, which will provide apples for the pupils to eat.
– Selly Oak Trust schools outdoor exercise equipment that pupils can use in and outside of lessons.
– Baverstock’s herb garden for use in the school canteen and food technology classes.
– Bishop Challoner’s memorial garden that is to be planted with lots of edible flowers, plants and fruits that the pupils can enjoy a healthy snack whilst they take some quiet time.
– Kings Heaths Boys father and son cricket coaching sessions that encourage activity and develop more trained people to work with groups in the local community. For more information on Health for Life in the Secondary School please contact Niall Crawford on 0121 366 9878.