The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a national survey that examined the extent of implementation of Health Promoting Schools (HPS) in Ireland.
A quantitative research design was adopted. A questionnaire was administered to all post-primary schools in the country (n=704). Data were analysed with the support of the software packages, SPSS and MaxQDA.
A response rate of 56 per cent (n=394) was achieved. Over half of these schools (56 per cent) self-identified as health promoting. Schools reported success in the areas of environment and curriculum and learning, however, partnerships and policy and planning required more attention. Some models of good practice emerged from the data but these were in the minority. Many schools, when asked to describe health promotion in their school, placed emphasis on physical health (diet and exercise) and curriculum predominately rather than the broader whole school conceptualisation. Only 35 per cent of HPS schools had a team supporting HPS developments. Only 36 per cent identified the existence of a school policy to support HPS. This suggests that further coherence for sustained and comprehensive implementation of HPS is necessary.
The research was conducted with school staff, in the first instance who self-reported their school’s level of HPS engagement.
This paper offers the first national baseline data available in relation to engagement in HPS in Ireland. It provides a valuable starting point from which further research with schools in this field can be conducted.
The authors would like to thank the teachers who were so generous of their time in completing this research. The authors would also like to thank the Irish Research Council, whose funding made this research possible.
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