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Calderdale: Using the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) to run a school health day

For the last four years Calderdale Council has used the day its staff carry out the NCMP weighing and measuring to deliver important healthy lifestyle messages to the whole school community. This case study forms part of our resource on the National Child Measurement Programme.

The ’health days’ are run by the Better Living Calderdale service. They normally start with an interactive assembly and then staff run classroom sessions, while other members of the team carry out the measurements for reception and year six children. There is a menu of 10 different sessions schools can choose from. The topics covered include everything from breakfast and snacking to sleep.

Gaynor Scholefield, Deputy Head of Health Improvement in the public health team, said: “When public health shifted to local government in 2013, we brought together three separately commissioned health improvement services under the same banner. Previously the NCMP, weight management and physical activity services were all delivered by different organisations.

“By forming an integrated health and wellbeing service we realised the potential for doing more with the NCMP. Before ’health days’, the NCMP was a routine activity undertaken in schools with little or no interaction other than measuring. We quickly realised the potential for introducing fun food and physical activity sessions.

“The feedback from schools has been excellent. We’ve found that the children, parents/carers and staff really enjoy the day and it gets them thinking about what food they’re eating and how active they are. Some schools have embraced the concept and run ‘health weeks.

But Calderdale is now looking to develop its work further. Alongside the NCMP, the council also carries out a children and young people’s lifestyle survey, the Electronic Health Needs Assessment (eHNA), which is targeted at the last two years of primary school as well as some secondary school year groups.

Lisa Garland, the Schools and Families Manager for the Better Living Calderdale service, said: “Between them, they provide us with a lead into schools and help us to target support accordingly. It got us thinking about what more we could do and in September we started piloting a new offer. We are now targeting more intensive support at about a quarter of our schools aimed at both staff and parents as well as children.”

So far this has involved training for staff, including lunchtime supervisors, about how to deliver healthy messages and encourage active play and workshops too for parents who are key to influencing lifetime habits.

Ms Scholefield added: “Our latest NCMP data is very concerning. Excess weight in four-year-olds is now significantly higher for the first time with one in four rather than one in five overweight. We clearly need to do more to reach children earlier and are considering how we might expand this work to early years settings and maternity services.

“We’re are also looking at how best we can influence eating and physical activity amongst secondary school aged young people. This is truly an iterative process led by a rich source of local data.”

Contact details

Gaynor Scholefield

Deputy Head of Health Improvement

Public Health Calderdale Council

[email protected]

This case study was produced jointly with Public Health England (PHE). For more information about the NCMP and current guidance from PHE on how the programme should be operated by local authorities, in line with the relevant legislation and best practice, go to: NCMP Operational Guidance.