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Filling the black box of implementation for health‐promoting schools

Louise Rowling (Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Oddrun Samdal (Department of Health Promotion and Development, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




Achieving organisational learning and greater specificity for implementation action for health‐promoting schools requires detailed understanding of the necessary components. They include: preparing and planning for school development, policy and institutional anchoring, professional development and learning, leadership and management practices, relational and organisational context, student participation, partnerships and networking, and sustainability. This paper seeks to elaborate a theoretically based rationale for how these eight components of implementation that needs to be put into action.


Building on the narrative synthesis in the complementary paper (“Theoretical base for implementation components of health‐promoting schools”, this issue), examples drawn from empirical research and evaluation reports in the field of health‐promoting schools are used to operationalise the function of the components.


This elaboration anchors specific implementation actions within their own theoretical and empirical base, a significant advance on previous guidelines. The eight components have been articulated separately. However, in practice they operate interdependently. Context and culture issues also need to be accommodated.

Practical implications

The level of specificity provided in this paper has the potential to enhance school staff professional learning, as it fulfils one of the characteristics for successful school‐based education, namely practical, detailed implementation and enough flexibility, allowing shaping to suit specific contexts.


The identification of this knowledge base should enable practitioners to develop an in‐depth understanding of the operational functioning of existing guidelines, thereby enhancing their practice. The specificity provided holds promise to enhance the science base and quality of implementation.



Rowling, L. and Samdal, O. (2011), "Filling the black box of implementation for health‐promoting schools", Health Education, Vol. 111 No. 5, pp. 347-362.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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