Inspite of all the challenges faced by the pandemic Thongsley Fields Primary and Nursery School has kept its eye on the goal of providing as many opportunities as possible to keep its school community healthy. As a result of the hard work and dedication of both the staff and pupils, it is the first school to fulfil the standards for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Healthy Schools Award and to be awarded Healthy Schools status. This reflects the commitment of the school to embed the requirements of the new Health Education curriculum and to continue its pledge to help improve the health and well-being of its whole community.
Such has been the determination of the school to encourage healthy lifestyle habits, it took on The Daily Mile Spring Challenge, co-ordinated by Living Sport, to virtually navigate “Mount Mile” which involved the children of each class working hard to reach the peak through doing The Daily Miles.
The Daily Mile is an international initiative, which helps schools to embed physical activity into their everyday routine. When Mount Mile started in February, the school went to amazing efforts to co-ordinate and encourage children at both home and school to take the daily required exercise. The hard work paid off as Thongsley reached the summit in time to be entered into the prize draw to win a question-and-answer session with Paralympian Sam Ruddock. The initiative kept the children connected through a team challenge, so whether they were taking part at home or in school, their individual efforts mattered and helped them to reach the top! The benefits of the challenge were summarised at the time by Lauren West, Deputy Head:
‘The pupils have really enjoying taking part; it has helped to keep the school community feeling by joining those pupils we have in school to those pupils working remotely to complete the same task.’
Whilst physical activity is one of the key elements of the Healthy Schools Award so too is nutrition and food education together with mental health and well-being. Pupils on the School Council initially took the lead to look at the opportunities to promote the importance of healthy eating and to focus especially on the quality and variety of the lunch time food – whether brought in from home or provided at school. The success of the School Council in motivating the whole school, including parents and carers, to participate in this project provided the incentive for the school to keep working towards the standards to achieve Healthy Schools status.
Speaking on behalf of the school, Lauren West, Deputy Head said of the award:
“As a result of completing the Healthy Schools accreditation, our pupils have developed a much better understanding of the importance of physical activity, healthy eating, mental health and wellbeing, alongside improvements in resilience and the ability to keep themselves and others safe. The sharing of milestones, achievements and key messages in relation to our Healthy Schools development has helped to ensure parents and carers and our wider school community have been involved at every step of the journey.”
With everyone on board the school’s ambition now is to continue the journey of raising the profile of health education and the importance it has for everyone both physically and mentally.
In recognition of the achievement, both Jyoti Atri, Director of Public Health, and Jonathan Lewis, Director of Education, Cambridgeshire County Council & Peterborough City Councils commented:
“Many congratulations to Thongsley Fields on attaining this accreditation. Schools are now required by OFSTED to ensure pupils understand how to keep physically fit by eating healthily and maintaining an active lifestyle. Thongsley Fields have clearly achieved this by demonstrating a dedication to the health and well-being of their pupils, staff and the wider community.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Darryl Preston, Co-Commissioner and sponsor of the Healthy Schools Award Scheme, added:
“Achieving the county’s first Healthy Schools status is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved at Thongsley Fields Primary and Nursery School. These early interventions will lead to happy, healthier futures for current and future generations.”