Presents findings from a study which explored the views of school staff and pupils concerning the concept of school staff as health exemplars, one of the original WHO criteria for the Health Promoting School model. Six single sex focus groups were conducted with secondary school pupils and eight one‐to‐one interviews with teaching and non‐teaching staff. The data suggest that there is little support from staff or pupils for the view that staff should act as health exemplars. Pupils felt that even if staff were to practise healthy behaviours this would not encourage pupils to adopt the health behaviour in question, and indeed that staff were a group from whom they wished to differ. Pupils did however think that staff actions should be consistent with their words, that staff should not openly display negative health behaviour, and that staff should not engage in negative health behaviours that directly affected pupils, such as smoking near them. Both staff and pupils thought that staff could legitimately give health advice. Although not much concerned about staff behaviour in relation to physical health, pupils and staff felt strongly that staff should model good interpersonal behaviours, such as respect, calmness and rapport.
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