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Article
Publication date: 17 February 2012

Aingeal de Róiste, Colette Kelly, Michal Molcho, Aoife Gavin and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

There is increasing recognition of children's abilities to speak for themselves. School democracy, as demonstrated by genuine participation, has the potential to benefit…

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Abstract

Purpose

There is increasing recognition of children's abilities to speak for themselves. School democracy, as demonstrated by genuine participation, has the potential to benefit both teachers and students; leading to better relationships and improved learning experiences. The aim of this study is to investigate whether participation in schools in Ireland is linked with perceived academic performance, liking school and positive health perceptions.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected via self‐completion questionnaires from a stratified random sample of 10,334 students aged 10‐17 years in Irish schools. The questions included encouragement to express their views in class, participation in the organisation of school events; taking part in making school rules; liking school, perceived academic performance, self‐rated health, life satisfaction and self‐reported happiness. Associations between school participation and other measures were expressed by odds ratios from logistic regression models, conducted separately for girls and boys.

Findings

More than 63 per cent of participating students reported that they were encouraged to express their views in class, 58 per cent that they were involved in organising school events and 22 per cent that they had been involved in making school rules. All forms of participation were lower among older students. Participation in school was significantly associated with liking school and higher perceived academic performance, better self‐rated health, higher life satisfaction and greater reported happiness.

Research limitations/implications

These data are all cross‐sectional and relationships cannot imply causality.

Practical implications

These findings underscore the relevance of school participation for students in Ireland.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates that, in general, positive relationships between school participation and health and wellbeing are demonstrated among Irish children.

Details

Health Education, vol. 112 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 September 2014

Natasha Daniels, Colette Kelly, Michal Molcho, Jane Sixsmith, Molly Byrne and Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

Active travel to school, by walking or cycling, can positively influence children's health and increase physical activity. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the…

Abstract

Purpose

Active travel to school, by walking or cycling, can positively influence children's health and increase physical activity. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the context and promoters and barriers of active travel, and the required actions and actors that need to be involved to address each of these.

Design/methodology/approach

Both quantitative and participative research methodologies were employed. The sample consisted of 73 children aged between 11 and 13 years from four primary schools in the West of Ireland. A self-completion questionnaire was followed by a participative protocol conducted with the class groups.

Findings

Overall 30.1 per cent of children reported that they actively travelled to school. A greater proportion of children from urban and disadvantaged schools actively travelled. Proximity to the school was the most frequently reported promoter and barrier. The children identified many actors that need to be involved to eliminate the barriers and enact the promoters of active travel to school. They also highlighted the need for a multi-sectorial approach to improve active travel rates in Ireland.

Originality/value

This study holds potential value in addressing the continued decline in active travel to school in Ireland as it shares a new perspective on the issue; that of the children. Adopting a participative approach allowed the children to participate in groups and develop the data themselves. The children confirmed that they have a relevant and valuable understanding of the process necessary to address active travel to school as a public health issue in Ireland.

Details

Health Education, vol. 114 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 February 2015

Mary Callaghan, Michal Molcho, Saoirse Nic Gabhainn and Colette Kelly

– Availability and access to food is a determinant of obesity. The purpose of this paper is to examine food availability within and outside of post-primary schools in Ireland.

1946

Abstract

Purpose

Availability and access to food is a determinant of obesity. The purpose of this paper is to examine food availability within and outside of post-primary schools in Ireland.

Design/methodology/approach

Data on the internal school food environment were collected from 63 post-primary schools using questionnaires. The external school food environment for these 63 schools was assessed by mapping food businesses within 1 km of schools, using a Geographic Information System (GIS). Food businesses were categorised based on type of food sold.

Findings

A total of 68.3 per cent of schools had a canteen, 52.5 per cent had a small food shop and 37.1 per cent had a vending machine. A total of 32.7 per cent of schools reported selling chips (French fries) in their canteen while 44.2 per cent of schools reported selling energy-dense nutrient-poor foods in their school shop. Of the schools surveyed, there was an average of 3.89 coffee shops and sandwich bars, 3.65 full service restaurants, 2.60 Asian and other “ethnic” restaurants, 4.03 fast food restaurants, 1.95 supermarkets, 6.71 local shops and 0.73 fruit and vegetable retailers within a 1 km radius of the post-primary schools. Findings are presented by geography (urban/rural), disadvantage (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in School (DEIS)/non DEIS), gender (girls/boys/mixed) and food policy in place at the school (yes/no).

Practical implications

These data will facilitate schools working on the framework for Health Promoting Schools in Ireland.

Social implications

This work can contribute to current discussions on restricting accessibility to certain foods and food premises for school children.

Originality/value

The study explores the internal and external school food environment. GIS have been used to link the external food environment to specific schools thus allowing a comprehensive analysis of the schools’ food environment. To the authors knowledge, this is the first time that both environments are explored simultaneously.

Details

Health Education, vol. 115 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

Keywords

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